Skip to main content
Internet Archive's 25th Anniversary Logo

Full text of "St. Patrick and the early Church of Ireland"

See other formats











Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by 



In the Clerk s Office of the District Court of the United States for the 
Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 

Stereotype, Philada. 



The Myth and the Man Book of Armagh Writings of 
Saint Patrick Evidences of Authenticity Other Ancient 
Authorities Modern Writers 7 


Alc-lnyd Good Blood Potitus the Presbyter Calpurnius 
the Deacon, and Decurio Culdee Cells Conchessa First 
Missions in Scotland Ninian, a specimen 21 


Patrick Baptized Foolish Legends The Lad not a Saint- 
Pirates Patrick Sold in In-land T-iids the Cattle- 
Rough Days Remembers his Sins Turns to God His 


Dreams The Fugitive On Shipboard A Storm A Desert 
A Strange Spell Home Again Dreams of Ireland Will 

be a Missionary &4 





Early Missions in Ireland Churches Celestine Interested 
Palladius Sent Not well Received Goes to Scotland 
His Disciples Servanus Ternanus 63 


Germanus Stories of Patrick s Wanderings Climax of 
Fable Was Patrick ever at Rome ? Was he Sent forth 
by the Bishop of Rome ? Silence of Ancient Authors on 
the Question Sechnall Fiacc Prosper Bede Patrick 
Confounded with Palladius Silence of the Confession 
Roman Mission a Legend 75 


When did Patrick go to Ireland to Preach? Where Labour 
before he Went? Any ties with Germanus? Germanus 
and Lupus in Britain Glastonbury Movement in Ar- 
morica Patrick Goes to Ireland Young at Forty-five 96 



An Affrighted Herdsman A Wrathy Master Patrick not a 
Pirate Fury Calmed Preaching in a Barn A Church 
Rises Patrick s Visit to his Old Master Repulse Look 
ing toward Tarah The Young Benignus Patrick s Tent 
before Tarah... .. 110 




Cutt ng the Mistletoe Sacrifices Baal Sun-worship 
Druids Doctrines Priests Superstitions Holy Wells 
Charms Bel tine Fires Bards Scotch Plaids Irish Hos 
pitality Danger from the Druids 123 



Great Feaat at Tarah King sees Patrick s Fire Tho Court 
on the Move Patrick in the Great Hall Preaching Duh- 
tach and Fiacc Listen The Hymn of Patrick 140 



A Commanding Presence Conall Converted Mode of 
Teaching King s Daughters Doctrine of the Trinity 
JTf Lj>ygnd of the Shamrock Treatment of Superstition 
The Crora-cru:i k destroys the Great Idol 
Pagan Customs A-l.-pt. <! by Christians Centres of Influ 
ence Love of riniifcrin^- Enthusiasm Patrick s Ex 
tended Travels Daring Spirit Goes into Connaupht 
Robbed Y .:! Km 1 urn nn <--!:. -fn-a Is of Gifta 
Attention to Young Men i:.->l, mj>tion of Captives All 
done in the Name of the Lord Willing to be a Martyr 
Power of Prayer National F.T -y in 
Ireland Persecution Patrick s Charioteer dies in place 
of his Master The Leinster Men... 151 



His Confession Tillemont s View of it The Doctrines in it 
Occasion of the Epistle to Coroticus Christian Captives 
Noble Appeal by Patrick An Embassy Scorned Doc 
trines of the Epistle 183 


Theme of Controversy Students under Patrick Cell of 
Ciaran Culdee System of Schools Young Men ordained 
Bishops Fiacc made Bishop of Sletty Certain Conclu 
sions More Bishops than Churches Her Synods Glory 
of the Early Irish Church The Decline Invasions by 
Danes and English Henry II. delivers Ireland to the 
Pope Two Churches in Ireland Strange Reversions in 
History 196 


Reform of the Laws Patrick s Purgatory Old Age Toiling 
to the Last St. Brigid Patrick dies Ireland in grief 
"Litany of St. Patrick" Canonization True Character... 220 


THERE is profit in " guesses at truth," when they expose 
errors long and widely prevalent They are like links of 
circumstantial evidence, no one of them sinirry of much 
positive value, but when joined and welded, they make a 
chain not easily broken. They are probabilities, and, 
according to their degree of -tremrth. they afford convictions 
of certainty. I do not claim to set forth in this volume a 
series of events all of which are the undoubted verities of 
hi.-tory. I do claim that the statements are as near to the 
complete truth concerning the subject treated as it has 
been possible for me to exhibit them after long and labo 
rious research. 

No r<uie.-^i..n i- made t< -iijier>titiini by giving the title 
of u saint" to the man whose name has become so popular, 
and, after fourteen hundred \v:irs. i> .-till a> fresh as the 
hhamrurk and L lven :i< the emerald. Without the title he 
would hardly be identified or seen in his distinctive 
character. A good gospel word was abused when Rome 
assumed to confer u]>on eminent < f hri.-ti:m< the honour of 
being saints, and limited tlie term to them. By the New 
tment charter we may claim it for all true ChristUMM, 
however humble or unknown 


Was there ever such a man as Saint Patrick ? It was wise 
to consider this question before attempting to write his life. 
By some it has been doubted, by a few others denied. But 
in such cases there has usually been a strong party feeling, 
or an ignorance of certain original sources of history. There 
is a distinction to be made between the myth and the man. 
Imagination has given us a Robinson Crusoe ; the real man 
was Alexander Selkirk. The Saint Patrick of the ordinary 
Irish heart is certainly very mythical. The portrait of him 
was drawn from imagination ; the colours are not those of 
the fifth, but those of the twelfth or fourteenth century. 
The deeds are manufactured to order and by the job, and 
the life is made of the baldest legends. This Patrick is a 
fully-developed Papist of the time, when certain errors pre 
vailed, which he could not have known in the fifth century. 
He is constantly working miracles, some of them very 
trifling, and some of them astounding, beyond all that was 
ever recorded of a mere man. For his especial benefit 
divine revelations are made to him, which cause a greater 
amazement than any ever made to Moses or Paul. He is 
too wonderful to be real. The myth business was entirely 
overdone. The manufacturers did not perceive that com 
mon sense might some time be restored to the human race. 

In the Middle Ages "it was customary with the monks 
to exercise their scholars in writing the lives of imaginary 
saints ; asserting that it was a pious and very improving 
way of exercising the imagination ! ! The best of these 
fanciful biographies were laid aside for future use ; and 
after the lapse of a few ages, when their statements could 
not be disproved, were produced and published as genuine. 


It is said the monks of Holywell applied to De Stone, a 
writer of the thirteenth century, to write for them the life 
of their patron saint. He asked for materials, but on being 
informed that they had none, he volunteered to write 
it without any. In this way the lives of St. Patrick were 
greatly multiplied, and were filled with the most marvellous 
legends." * 

Dr. Geoffrey Keating, more than two hundred years ago, 
said: " We an- informed by a manuscript chronicle of 
antiquity that sixty-four persons have severally written the 
lif- of this reverend mis-iimary." As to the " antiquity." it 
would not have been so very antique wit li iim-t of them. 
Dr. Lanigan, a Roman Catholic historian, felt ashamed of 
the legend-makers, and he says of these lives that "they 
are full of fall. -,. and seem to have been copied, either 
from each other, or from some common repository in which 
such stories have been collected. It would be idle to nn-n- 
tion the many proof- which they exhibit of being patched 
up at a late period." And Bollandus, one of their learned 
writer ii.eniin-r them, "They have been patched 

ber by iiM>t fabulous authors, and are none of them 
more anr-i.-nt than the twelfth century." This is not said 
of all the account- "riven of Patrick by the annali-N. ><mie 
of whom wrote at a much earlier period. It is said of the 
fuller lives. In them is seen Patrick, the myth. 

Very different was the man Patrick. If we strip away 
the burdening growth of wild ivies, we may get at the 

Ireland and the Irish, by Kirwan (Rev. N. Murray. T>.I>.) 
This title was given to a seriv- .f 1. 1 tors publirhed in the N. Y. 
Observer, 1856, and to which I am much indebted. 


genuine sturdy oak of his character. Even the grossest 
fables may have a foundation in fact. Often in the legends 
of the monks there can be traced a thread of historic truth. 
If we cast away the rubbish without sifting, we may lose a 
few gems hidden in the mass. If we allow that the so- 
called miracles of Patrick are most absurd, it does not at 
all follow that the history is a romance. Dr. Murray said : 
" Whilst there are many and good reasons for the rejection 
of the lives of Saint Patrick as so many monkish fables, as 
stupid as they are nonsensical, yet that there was a very de 
voted and greatly useful missionary of that name, endued with 
apostolical zeal, in Ireland, and about the time to which 
history refers, we are compelled to admit. 

Traditions are of some value in regard to his existence 
and general history. "The traditions in the Book of 
Armagh," says Dr. Todd, "cannot be later than the third 
half century after the date usually assigned to the death of 
Saint Patrick. They assume his existence as admitted by 
all parties and never questioned. Had the story of Saint 
Patrick been then of recent origin, some remarks or 
legends in the collection would certainly have betrayed the 
fact. That the collectors of these traditions indulged in 
the unscrupulous use of legend strengthens the argument. 
There were men alive, at the time, whose grandfathers 
might have conversed with the disciples of the Patrick 
who was said to have converted the Irish in the latter half 
of the fifth century. Had the existence of this Patrick 
been a thing to be proved, or even doubted, some of these 
men would have been produced as witnesses, and made to 
tell their experience." For there was a great assumption 


made ; it was that Armagh had a right to the jurisdiction 
over all other churches in Ireland a claim not generally 
admitted. To prop it uj tin-so traditions were collected. 
All was based upon the existence and acts of 1 atrirk. and 
yet in this curious record there is no attempt to prove that 
he had actually lived in Ireland. A whole people was ready 
to admit it so ready indeed that, upon their admission and 
high regard for the man, is built up a very faulty theory of 
church authority. The foundation was solid the structure 
was of wood, hay, stubble. 

"It is incredible that a- whole nation could have com 
bined thus to deceive themselves ; and it is even more in 
credible that a purely mythological personage should have 
left upon a whole nation so indelible an impression ,,f 
imaginary services an impre-sion which continue to the 
present day in t lit -ir fireside lore, their local traditions, the 
warm-hearted devotion and gratitude ; which has left also 
its la-tint: memorial in tin- ancient names of hills and head 
lands, towns and villages, churches and monasteries through 
out tin- country." * 

Nor is this all. There are certain writings which claim 
to have come from the very pen of Saint Patrick. Our i> 
a hymn, which LMV.-< us no historic information, l.ut i< of 
great value in a spiritual li.irht. It will In- found in chapter 
ix.. with the re:i>.m.s for giving it a place in thi> volume. 
The only others which I assume to be genuine are the - 
/ / < > " and the /. /- .//. Some 

writer.^ include them bth under either one of these titles. 
or refer to them as the " Cotton MS." It is only in their 
* Todd. St. Patrick, preface. 


simpler, and doubtless earliest form, that they are thus ad 
mitted ; what is evidently interpolated by later hands is 
almost all rejected. They are quite universally admitted to 
be authentic and genuine by Protestant historians, some of 
whom also give a place to certain tracts, such as De Tribus 
Halritaculis. The evidence in favour of the Confession is 
somewhat stronger than that for the Epistle; but both are 
adopted, for the following reasons : 

1. Their antiquity. They are older than any of the lives 
extant, and they are largely quoted in almost all the 
biographies. If one goes to a Romish book-stall, he may 
find, under their titles, a mixture of facts and ridiculous 
fables. But the older copies come to us with a more honest 
face and better credentials. About the close of the eighth 
century a copy of the Confession was transcribed into the 
collection entitled the Book of Armagh. The copyist com 
plains that the original was becoming quite obscure, which 
is no slight evidence of authenticity. At the close are the 
words, Thus far the volume which Patrick wrote with his 
own hand." 

This copy is much shorter than those found in later 
manuscripts. Did the transcriber condense or abridge the 
copy before him ? So thought Dean Graves, for an et cetera 
sometimes occurs. But this might only mean that the 
original was dim by reason of its age, or that only the lead 
ing facts of Patrick s life were intended to be preserved in 
the Armagh collection. It was not, however, the fashion 
of that age to abridge documents by leaving out the 
wonders and miracles ; the style was rather to leave out 
the sober facts of history. If we find in this copy chiefly 


facts, we may conclude that the miracles were not yet in 
vented. The Epistle to Coroticus is not in the Book of 
Armagh. But it bears the marks of the same age and 
authorship. It also quotes the Latin vi-rsion of the Bible, 
made before that of Jerome, which Patrick would hardly 
have used, for the older translation would have won his 
heart in his younger days. 

2. Their purity. They are not entirely free from errors ; 
but the errors are just such as we should expect to find in 
the writings of a m:m in the decline of the fifth century. 
An orthodox Augustine was a rare being at a little earlier 
period. But the older copies of these writings are free 
In. in ridiculous legends of miracles and saint-worship. As 
such fables are contained only in later copies, we may infer 
that they were foisted in by the makers and mongers < ! 
hunt; fictions. Of the Confession, Neander says: "The 
work bears in its simple, rude style an impress that 
corresponds entirely to Patrick s stage of culture. There 
are to be found in it none of the traditions which, perhaps, 
proceeded only from English monks [after the Anglo-Saxon 
in\ asion in the twelfth century] ; nothing wonderful, except 
what may be explained on psychological principles. All 
tlii- voiirhr- i.r tin- authenticity of the piece." Neand-r 
knew the edition of Sir .J:mn-s Ware ; that in the Book of 
Armagh is .-till purer. I have con-nltnl the /,/// . !/?- 
mcachce in Sir William Btntluun l ///>/< A/<ti<jn i,-i<in Re- 

3. Their (It-sign. It was not to prop up certain theories 
of church government. They were not written in the intemfr 

* Hist. Ch. Church, ii. p. 122, note. 


of any party, certainly not that of the Roman power. Such 
a purpose is manifest only in some of the later interpola 
tions, thrust in when it was thought desirable to make the 
people believe that Ireland had received her great bishop 
and her Christianity directly from the banks of the Tiber. 
Dr. Todd says of the Confession, especially: "If it be a 
forgery, it is not easy to imagine with what purpose it 
could have been forged." * If a u pious fraud," it was by 
one who thought it important to assume the name and to 
set forth the experiences of Patrick in accordance with 
Scripture. Would such a man forge such a document ? 

The avowed object was to show why Patrick felt called to 
preach the gospel to the Irish people ; to declare that he 
was not sent by man, but by the Lord ; to furnish evidence 
that God had approved of his mission and labours ; to record 
some of his experiences; to "make known God s grace 
and everlasting consolation, and to spread the knowledge 
of God s name in the earth." He wished in his old age "to 
leave it on record after his death, for his sons whom he 
had baptized in the Lord." In the proper places I have 
referred to this work as a defence of himself and his mis 
sion, and to the Epistle as a noble appeal for Christian 
rights and liberty. 

4. Their scriptural character. Not the " fathers, " but 
the inspired writers are quoted. " They abound in simple 
statements of Gospel truth ; but there cannot be discovered 
in them a single one of those doctrines invented in later 
times, and set forth as necessary to salvation, in the Creed 
of PDpe Pius IV. The Scriptures are treated by him with 
* Saint Patrick, p. 347. 


deep reverence, as infallible and sufficient. In support of 
hi- teaching, 1 atrick appeals to no other authority than to 
that of the written Word ; and in the few chapters of his 
Confession alone there lire thirty-five quotations from the 
Holy Scriptures."* 

5. The honesty, humility and gratitude everywhere ap 
parent. The Confession : is altogether such an account of 
himself as a missionary of that age, circumstanced as Saint 
Patrick was, might be expected to compose." Says Dr. 
Todd : " Its Latinity is rude and archaic." Its tone is : 
"I, Patrick, a sinner, a rustic, the least of all the faithful" 
" a poor, sinful, despicable man " not at all "on a level 
with the npitles "appointed a bishop in Ireland, I 
certainly confess that, by the grace of God, I am what I 

Yet here an objection has been urged. "Who can 
believe," asks Casimir Oudin, "if Patrick was a man of 
learning and n-l.-l.rity in the fifth century, that he could 
have written in a semi-Latin and barbarous style?" But 
it is in it claimed that he was a man of learning, educated 
on the Continent, and passing thirty-five years in monas 
teries. Such a view is not con-i>ti-nt with what we know 
of the man. We should expect his pen to move in a rude 
style. The very objection is rather one of the itroi 
arguments fi.r the authenticity of these writing. "The 
rude and hail uity" docs not appear in the tract > 

concerning the Three Habitations" and the "Twelve 
Abuses of the Age ;" one of which has been attributed to 

Ohurch of St. Patrick, by the Rev. John Wilson, Belfast, 1860. 
This is a valuable tract. 


Augustine of Hippo, and the other to Cyprian. The 
writer s own account is that he could not write elegantly, 
for he had not been a student from infancy, and he had 
been so long among a rude people that his speech had been 
changed to another tongue. In our times well-educated 
missionaries in foreign lands, grown familiar with a foreign 
tongue, can appreciate his difficulty. He did not write as a 
monk, but as a missionary. 

6. The neglect into which the older form of these writings 
fell is some evidence of their truth. They did not serve 
the purposes of a Church which has coolly laid claim to 
all the saintly characters from the time of Abel to the 
beginning of the fifteenth century. She has swelled the 
catalogue of saints, but she has never been content with the 
original records of good men. She has added to them 
whatever suited her purpose, and cast into the shade the 
original documents. Thus has she done with the Holy 
Scriptures. How much has she added to the first simple 
accounts of Mary and Peter, and even our Lord ! Her very 
neglect of the original records is an argument for their 
authenticity. It sets them apart from the legends which 
were manufactured in her interest. It distinguishes the 
true coin from the cheap counterfeit, the latter having 
become very profitable to Rome. Her authors have not 
been content to publish these unvarnished writings of an 
honest Christian missionary. There was not enough of the 
wonderful, the monkish, the Romish element in them. 
They were cast into a dark corner, according to her manner 
of putting to silence the witnesses of truth. The real 
Patrick has been slumbering his thousand years. It is 


tiim- or him to rouse, and in rising up he will throw off 
thr v ist heaps of >uper>t it ions piled upon him to keep 
him .uiet. 

H>-iv. then, is a footimr upon these ancient documents. 
Assmiiimr their genuineness, we maybe guided to some 
knowledge of the life, the labours and doctrines of Patrick. 
What airives with them we shall accept from all sources 
within reach ; what is inconsistent is rejected. 

Among the oldest of the " Lives" is the brief Hymn of 
or St. Fiei -h, who seems to have been a disciple of 
I .-itriek. If lie composed such a poem, he may have 
-i in_ it as ;i converted bard ; but a later hand is apparent in 
a li w miracles added to it I have before me a tri-fonn the nriirinal IrMi. tin- Latin version of 
1 in. and an Kn:li>h translation by the anonymous author 
f a Liti- ,,f St. Patrick. The eollertion of " Lives" in 
f !;/., H X 7V/. /.v T/HtiniKifitr!/ ! is valuable, if defects in 
quality ran be made good by .superabundance in quantity, 
the 7V//; //-///, J/,f, } H in- the only one worthy of much 
1. The reading if J.,,:li,,, x Llf, of St. Patrick 
almost di-L UM.-d me with the subject, but it was refreshing 
to find one of the latest R<nni>h writers saying, "How 
derogatory iron i coinnioii sense have tlu; hiu.-rn pliers of our 
saint acted, and particularly Joceline!" Our modern 
author, however, i- not dear of the same fault. 

Almost all my previous researches might have been 

spared had I received at an earlier day the work entitled 

St. 1 itrnh. .\/, ><(le of Ireland; a Memoir of his Life 

Mi^io,,. iritft .in ii fru tu.t .n/./i.wrtatv 

Baltimore: John Murphy, 1861. 


usages of the Church in Ireland . . . by James ffenthorn 
Todd, D.D. To this learned work by an Episcopal clergy 
man, and an antiquarian declared to be thoroughly versed 
in Irish history, my indebtedness is gratefully acknowledged. 
His brother, the Rev. Wm. G. Todd, in his Church of St. 
Patrick, has proved that the ancient Church of Ireland was 
independent of Rome. 

Other works have been consulted, such as the Historia 
Britonum of Nennius ; Ecclesiastic* Historic Gentes An- 
glorum, of Bede; Britannicarum Ecclesiarum Antiquitates, 
of Ussher; Annales Ecclesiastic! of Baronius; Me"moires 
Ecclesiastique, par M. de Tillemont; Le Grand Diction- 
naire, par M. Louis Moreri ; Biographic Universelle ; An 
nales Hiberniae, ab Thoma Carve ; Collectanea de Rebus 
Hibernicis, by Charles Valiancy; Les Moines d Occident, 
par le Comte de Montalembert; Alban Butler s Lives of the 
Saints; Ledwich s Antiquities of Ireland; Annals of Ire 
land, by the Four Masters; Neander s Memorials of Chris 
tian Life ; Ecclesiastical Histories of Ireland, by Brenan, 
Carew, Lanigan and Wordsworth; Sir James Ware s His 
tory and Antiquities of Ireland; McLauchlan s Early Scot 
tish Church ; Soames Latin Church during Anglo-Saxon 
Times ; Lappenberg s History of England under the Anglo- 
Saxon Kings ; the several Histories of Ireland by Keating, 
Macgeoghan, Moore, Haverty, O Halloran and O Connor; 
and the General Histories of the Christian Church by 
Fleury, Neander, Mosheim, Kurtz, Cave and Collier. 

I have not discussed at tedious length the question of 
Saint Patrick s birth-place, but have frequently pointed out 
evidences that it was on the Clyde. The opinion that it 


was Boulognc-sur-Mer, in Gaul, seems to be quite modern. 

It- .-iiii-f Mipporter i> I>r. Laniiran. win. iiiLM-iiiuii-ly brings 
forward no little learnini: on tin- >ubject, but all his trini- 
uiini: of ftntiqOAted names can hardly >ati>fv us that his 
Bononia TarvamiH was Patrick s Bonavem Taberni;p. 
where tin irivat miionary tell- us his father dwelt. We 
can find halt a do/en places in Gaul once called Bononia, * 
ami a score of Taberniae ; and ^ possibly by Dr. Lanigan s 
in.nlc nl iva.Mining we might show that Saint Patrick was 
born at the Thiv<- Taverns ( Trex Talnrn(Ui), where Paul met 
his Christian brethren. This would bring the "Apostle of 
Ireland" near -n..u-h to Rome, in his childhood, to please 
the m,,M ardent papal admirers. The opinion that he was 
born on the banks of the Clyde, or somewhere in North 
Britain, is Hipp..rted by Fiacc and his scholiast, the author 
of St. I)eclan > Life. I lohns Sigibert (quoted by Ussher), 
Ware. .Inceline. Fleiiry, Tilleinont, Hailet, Albaii 

Butler. .M ie-e ghan, Baronius (?), Moreri, Spottiswoode, 
Camden. Cnllier, Lappenberg, Thorpe, Henry, Gibbon, 
Neander, Milner, Wordsworth, J. C. Robertson, Hether- 
ington, D Aubignd, McLauchlan, Giesseler, Kurtz, Mo- 
>lieiin, Todd, Reeves and other writers, both Protestant and 
Roman Catholic. 

Truth and fact have been most earnestly sought, and the 
attempt is to present them intelligibly and impartially. I 
have given to many statement- the h aw >hadimr of a 
doubt, and I only ask for them the benefit of a probability. 
A plain mark has been put upon every >illy legend, which 
it seemed proper to notice in order to make clear the poiota 
* Anthon s Clasa. Diet 


of the case, or to bring upon some popular superstition its 
deserved ridicule. 

If the name of Saint Patrick were less known ; if it had 
fallen into obscurity ; if we had to rescue it from oblivion, 
as that of Hyppolitus or that of Paleario has been rescued, 
and if he were not so commonly portrayed in colours that 
do not at all suit his complexion, ours would be an easier 
task. It would be less difficult to meet the popular views. 
In telling the truth about him we must come in conflict 
with the common opinions. Men will take down their 
histories and cyclopedias and read the usual story, shake 
their heads, call in question what we relate, and examine 
the subject no further ; I can only ask them to follow up 
my references. 

If any one attached to the Roman Catholic Church shall 
read this volume, let him not suppose that we dishonour 
the great man whom he reveres as the patron saint of all 
Irishmen. Far from it ; we would have him honored in his 
true character. If such a reader will adopt the ancient 
religion of Saint Patrick, he will find himself almost a 
modern Protestant. At all events, he will go to the Word 
of God as the only authority in matters of faith, and the 
only source of light to guide him in the way of life. It is 
not so much our aim to set forth the man Patrick as it 
is to illustrate the principles by which he was controlled in 
the labours that have made his name renowned. The record 
of his toils and triumphs ought to be instructive, if a late 
writer says truly, "From all that can be learned of him, 
there never was a nobler Christian missionary than Patrick. " 





7N cottages, near Intl. towns, great men have 
been born. God makes his earnest workers 
&G? f dust, he may have all the glory. 

When looking f>r the l,irt h-plav of Saint 
Patrick we turn to Scotland. The voyager on the 
deck of the vessel that -teams up the Clyde will 
have his eye upon a lonely, ru^-cd rock that rfea 
almo-t three hundred feet above the water, and i- 
now crowned with a cattle. It was once called 
Alcluyd,* the Rock of the Clyde. It gave it- 
name to a fort on its top and a town at its foot. 
There, on their own frontier, the ancient Uritons 
resisted the Northern Scot- and 1 icte. Border 
strife- made it a place of death. The old <ongs 
tell of the river, running red with blood. It 
* Alrluith, Al.-luiu.l. \U-luada, Aldy.l.-. In Oasian e poems 
it is Balclutha. See my preface. 



seems to have been a stronghold of the Eomans, 
who built one of their walls from Alcluyd 
across the country to the Frith of Forth. To 
them the Britons yielded and looked for defence 
during several generations. It is supposed that 
these Eomanized Britons united with the tribes of 
Southern Scotland and formed the Cumbrian 
league, or the kingdom of Strathclyde. Their 
capital was Alcluyd, which they named Dunbriton, 
"the hill of the Britons," whence the present 
name of Dumbarton. Four miles from it, toward 
Glasgow, on the line of the old Roman wall, is 
the modern town of Kilpatrick, which claims to 
be the birth-place of Saint Patrick. The Christian 
year 397 is the most probable date of his birth. 

The account given in his name is this: "I, 
Patrick, a sinner, the rudest and the least of all 
the faithful, and the most despicable among most 
people, had for my father Calpurnius, a deacon, son 
of the late Potitus, a presbyter, who was of the 
town of Bonavem Tabernise; for he had a cottage 
(or farm) in the neighbourhood where I was cap 

* Confessio Patricii. We have stated in the preface the 
reasons for presuming the Confession, in its oldest form, to be 


He does not tell us where he was born; he 

simply relates that his father dwelt at Bonavera, 

where he also was living when taken captive. But 

why mention the place as his home, unless he was 

a native of it? The plain inference is that he was 

lx>rn there. It is difficult to identify Bonavem 

Tabernise with any ancient town. To no one 

probably was this Latin name given; it is simply 

the Latin translation of some name which was 

foreign to the language of the Romans. Perhaps 

the words mean a town at the river s mouth,* near 

the tents (tabernise) or shops of the Roman army. 

The Hymn of Fiacc begins thus: " Patrick was 

born at Nempthur." The old commentator upon 

it says of Nempthur, "It is a city in North 

Britain, vix. Aleluada." According to the ancient 

and IX-.M trad it inn-, we may assume tli;it Saint 

I airi.-k WM brn in a COttagC not tar from Aleluyd, 

and under its pmtertion. 

lint, ii-elinji that he wa- unworthy "f any birth- 
plaer, he did n- t elearly define it. In his old age 
he t hun-Jit rather nf hi- li<>nir in the heaven.-. He 
might have said, as did Severinus, one of the 

* 7?on, mouth ; awn, river. Celtic Di>/. Nnni thur may 
oome from JVm, a riv.-r. .uid 2V, a tower the ca^tl.- ..n the 


missionaries along the banks of the Danube, in the 
fifth century : " What pleasure can it be to a ser 
vant of God to specify his home, or his descent, 
since by silence he can so much better avoid all 
boasting? I would that the left hand knew noth 
ing of the good works which Christ grants the 
right hand to accomplish, in order that I may be a 
citizen of the heavenly country. Why need you 
know my earthly country, if you know that I am 
truly longing after the heavenly ? But know this, 
that God has commissioned me to live among this 
heavily oppressed people." 

The admiring monks sought to glorify Saint 
Patrick by inventing for him a royal lineage. 
They ran it back to Britus, or Britanus, the sup 
posed ancestor of the Britons. But he had no 
such vain imaginations. It was enough for him to 
tell us of his grandfather. We are glad to know 
that he was the grandson of Potitus,* the presbyter. 
The blood was good. If he had thought that his 
grandfather had disgraced himself by marriage, f he 

* " Son of Odisse" is added on the margin of the Book of 
Armagh, in the hand of the original scribe. In Fiacc s 
Hymn he is called " the Deacon Odisse." 

f In the year 314, the council of Neocaesarea decreed that 
the presbyter who married should forfeit his standing. 


would hardly have mentioned him iis a minister 
of God s word. He would have been silent about 
his clerical anccster. It seems that he did not 
believe in the celibacy of the clergy, even in his 
old age. Here is some proof of the truth and the 
antiquity of " the Confession." If it had been in 
vented and written in more papal times, Saint 
Patrick would not have been made the grandson 
of a presbyter; not if that presbyter held the rank 
of a Roman priest.* The book must be older than 
the notion that the early Churches of Scotland 
and Ireland were controlled by the bishop of 

Of Potitus we learn nothing more, except that 
his office was held in high esteem in his times. 
Martin of Tours declared, at a public entertain 
ment, that the emperor was inferior in dignity to a 
presbyter. f This may have been a boast, yet 
without vaunting the early Christians of Scotland 

_ T ground w:is -rn.lually taken, until, aUut the 
400, the I.MI..J. ,,f I ,,,,,,. f,, r li:ile the marri.t-e ..f the el 
Hut yet, in nm |, ; s bull was not cloudy heeded. 

Ntmder a C/<. 7//X ii. 1 17. 

*Some writ.r, e.-ill h.titu, a pfM* Thus [QOM, 
Carew and other K.-m.-iniMx. Th.- original \v<>nl i* r.-n 
prabytcr by such prelatists a Todd, Soaraes and Uwher. 

i M.-h.-ini. < Vnt. V. chap. ii. 


regarded the presbyter as a bishop. The same was 
true in England and Ireland. Even in the tenth 
century, Elfric, a Saxon bishop, wrote thus of the 
orders of church officers, putting the presbyter first: 
" There is no difference between him and the bishop, 
except that the bishop is appointed to confer ordi 
nation, which, if every presbyter should do, would 
be committed to too many. Both, indeed, are one 
and the same order." Pryne says of the early 
Britons : " They maintain the parity of the 
bishops and presbyters." In Eastern lands men 
began to put a difference between these officers. 
"Yet a Chrysostom and a Jerome still asserted 
the primitive equal dignity of the presbyters and 
the bishops, very justly believing that they found 
authority for this in the New Testament."* 

Potitus may have been a Culdee presbyter. His 
Latin name does not prove that he was a Roman, 
sent out with the army from Rome as a mission 
ary to the Britons. Native names were often 
Latinized by the historians. f It is more likely 
that he was a Briton by birth. Perhaps he studied 

* Neander s Ch. Hist. vol. ii. p. 155, American ed. 

f Succath was changed to Patricius. Two native ministers 
in the sixth century, near Loch Ness, are called Fmchadus 
and Virolecus. 


the Scriptures and prayed in the Culdee cell at 
Aleluyd, and at its door preached to the people. 

To us there is something quite romantic about 
the cw/7, kit, or cell of the early Christians in 
Scotland and Ireland. There is scarcely a doubt 
that it gave name to the Cuildich, or Culdees. To 
them tin -iv was a sacredness about it as they re 
treated to it in some lonely wood, narrow valley, 
or rugged ravine. It was not the abode of a 
monk ; it was the resort of a missionary. It was 
his "Htudy," where he prepared for preaching. 
Its origin we cannot discover ; perhaps it was, at 
first, a refuge from enemies or a resort for prayer. 
It became the sacred place of the presence of God; 
almost the Holy of Holies, with its veil rent for 
the entrance of the Culdee worshipper. Its plan 
was carried with every missionary, and he chose 
the spot t .r his "cell" as the Hebrew did for the 
tabernacle. There was his sanctuary; there he 
wrestled with God in prayer; there tin- people 
might us-emble with reverence to hear him preach. 
It was holy ground ; the burning bush was there 
in the desert. The cell develop- into tlne forms 
the oratory, the kirk and the college.* At some 

* Princeton Krvii-w, IM .T. Artid.- on "Tin- < ulIrr Monas 


period a cell, or kil, was located near the spot 
where Saint Patrick was born. It may have been 
close by the same cottage. There Potitus may 
have studied and prayed. There the people may 
have assembled for worship. There, it seems, a 
Culdee kirk, or church, grew up, which the people 
o^ later days called Kilpatrick, in honour of the 
great missionary, who was born at the place. Po 
titus seems to have lived to a good old age, and 
been worthy of the respect of his grandson. It is 
some proof of his excellent family government that 
he reared a deacon. 

The deacon was Calpurnius. What sort of a 
deacon was he ? Some place him in " the third or 
lowest order of the ordained clergy." Such 
"deacon s orders" would savour of Rome, and 
give to Calpurnius ,the rank of a clergyman. 
If he was such a deacon, he was quite free from 
the Roman notions of celibacy, for he took a wife 
and reared a family. If a clergyman at all, he 
must have been a Culdee licentiate. It was held 
to be no sin for a Culdee minister to marry. But 
if he was a Culdee deacon, he was hardly a minis 
ter, or a candidate for the ministry. The church 
of the Culdees seems to have been regulated after 
the Bible, and not after the Roman model. It ap- 


pears to have had deacons, elders and presbyters, 
and none of higher rank. Doubtless the early 
Culdees had no very perfect system of church 
government, but in what they did have, they 
sought to follow "the order of the primitive 
( liiirch." Dwelling among quarrelsome tril -, 
and in danger of persecutions, they gave them 
selves to preaching Christ and peace, rather than 
to questions and modes of government.* Cal- 
purnius may have been a deacon of the church at 

Another office is said to have been held by Cal- 
purnius. If a certain ancient letter came from the 
hand of Saint Patrick, he says, " I was of a family 
respectable accord ini: t" the flesh, my father having 
been a decurio. I gave up my nobility for the 
good of others, that I might be a missionary ."f 
The decurio was a magistrate and counsellor in the 
Roman colonies. The office conferred a hi^h rank 
on those who held it. These officers " were mem 
bers of the court, or counsellors of the city, and 
could not be ordained [to tin Chri.-tian mini-try]. 
By virtue of their estates tiny \\eie tied to the 
offices of their country. They HUM have -i eeriain 

* Hi-theriiiKtoi, - Hi < luirrli of Srothiml. OKI] 
f Tin- Kpimli- ((nccniiii^ Corotic-iiB. See raj preface. 


amount of property."* Such was the law of Con- 
stantine for the more wealthy decuriones. " The 
fact that Calpurnius is said to have held that office 
may perhaps tend to show us that he belonged to 
one of the Roman provinces of Great Britain, 
rather than to Bretagne Armorique. It is a mis 
take to suppose that a decurio was necessarily a 
military officer."f Such a man must have had no 
little authority over the Britons of Strathclyde. 
The Romans allowed "governors of the native 
races," especially at Alcluyd. When the Romans 
were called home to resist the Goths, they must 
have left very much of their power in the hands 
of the magistrate. But Calpurnius ruled in the 
State like a good deacon of the Church. 

Tradition informs us that the mother of Saint 
Patrick was Conchessa. Various writers call her 
the sister of Martin, archbishop of Tours and the 
founder of monasteries in Western Europe. A 
candid Romanist thinks that this opinion is refuted 
by the silence of the ancient annalists. " For it 
cannot be supposed that a connection so honour 
able, and which, if it existed, must have been 
generally known, could have been passed over in 

* Bingham s Ecclesiastical Antiquities, book iv. 4. 
f Todd s Saint Patrick. Dublin, 1864, p. 354. 


silence by persons who must have been eager to 
mention whatever could exalt the character of 
Saint Patrick with po.-terity."* In the tract on 
"the mothers of tin- .-aims in Ireland/ f she is 
represented as a Briton. \V- may believe that -he 
was "a woman superior to the majority of her 
sex," anl that she endeavoured to instil into the 
heart of her son the doctrines of Christianity.J 

Such a iuinily, in which there was a presbyter 
and a deacon, dwelling on the banks of the Clyde, 
could not well be the solitary Christians of that 
country. There must have been many others. 
Win-nee their religion, and how long had it existed 
in Scotland / 

Mittionariea may have followed in the footsteps 
of the Uoman army, the sword preparing the way 
for the CM-" . For four hundred yi r ( hrist 

the Unman- held .-way over many parts of Eng 
land and Southern Scotland, and the door was open 
for teaeher- of ihe faith, howe\< r -e\erely xme of 
th<- emperor- per-.-eiited them. Yet little seems 
to have been done. The native people hated the 

* An Ecclesiastical f In-hind, by the Right Rev. 

P. J. Carew, p. 52. 

f Attributed to yEnguw the Culdee, of the ninth century. 
t D Aubigntfs Hist of Ref. Vol. v. chaj). i. 



invaders; they were not likely to give ear to 
preachers who came from the Koman Empire. 
Missionaries from Rome would have taught certain 
Koman errors, such as the celibacy of the clergy, 
prelacy and submission to the bishop of Rome. 
We must not forget that Rome, in the first Christian 
centuries, was far purer than she became after the 
seventh ; the great errors had not grown up : still, 
she had perverted many doctrines and practices 
before the Roman army left Britain. If we found 
these peculiar errors among the Christian Britons 
and Scots at an early day, we should conclude that 
they had been taught by Roman missionaries. We 
do not find them ; we find a much purer form of 
Christianity ; and our conclusion is, that they first 
received the gospel from a different quarter. 

Ships sailed to Britain from Eastern lands where 
the Greek language prevailed. They came from 
the harbours of cities where the apostles had 
preached. On their decks may have been Chris 
tian merchants and missionaries from Greece and 
Asia Minor. The one class could supply funds, 
the other could give the gospel to the Scots and 
Britons. We may suppose that such teachers of 
the faith gathered a few people about them and told 
them of Jesus who was crucified for them. All 

- i / vy r A TRICK. 33 

; -ome beheved. The number of hearers 
increased. Little hand- celebrated the dying love 
f Chri>t. The Druids shook their heads in 
aii j-er; the jir.iplc were iorsakini: them; their craft 
was in danger; they cried out against the new 
doctrine-. They claimed to be the only religious 
teacher- and the law-maker-. They muttered 
their dark su-picions to the chieftains and kings. 
iVr-eciiiinn an-e. The little Hocks were scattered. 
They -oiio-lit refuge in narrower valleys. The 
teacher- hid in do-er retreats. They made them 
cells f.r prayer and study, and became Culdees. 
In some >m-h manner, we may suppose, Christianity 
WM tir-t planted in Scotland and the northern part 
of Britain, and the Culdees arose.* Before the 
end of the second century there appear to have 
been many bands of ( hri-tiaus north of the Clvde 
and the JJoman Wall. In the year iM I, ( )ri-c M in ( in-ck, The power of (iod, cur Saviour, 
i- even with them who ii Uritain are shut out from 

* An. .tln-r ..pinion iMhat S,,iith.-rn Hritain first received the 
inissinn.-irif!* from A.-ia Minor .-uui ( Ir. .c,-, or from the churches 
of Lv,,,,- ;m.l Mareeilles, which were of the Grecian tyj,, ; ati.l 
that un.lcr siifh |iTM-cutionB M that of I>iorlrtian many of 
these early I .rili-h Ch.iMiai^ fl, ,1 to S.^tland and In-land, 
wln-iv th.-y to,,: ;| ,.,.[], .,,,,1 became known as the 

Culdees. /> 


our world." About the same time Tertullian said 
" that parts of the British Isles, not reached by 
the Romans, were made subjects to Christ." This 
was scarcely all rhetoric. We know that early in 
the fifth century Rome sent " bishops" to the " Scots 
believing in Christ." She did it as if it were a 
new thing ; without her aid the Scots had believed. 
They continued to believe and increase. They re 
jected her u bishops" until forced to accept them in 
the twelfth century. In their churches was a purer 
faith. " These churches were formed after the 
Eastern type ; the Britons [and Scots] would have 
refused to receive the type of that Rome whose 
yoke they detested." * 

We find in Ninian a specimen of an early Briton 
Christian. Perhaps he was known to Potitus ; 
they were of t* e same kingdom of Strathclyde. 
He was born about the year 360. His parents 
were Christians and early devoted him to the 
Christian ministry. He loved his associates, 
abstained from jests, gave his hours to study and 
closely searched the Holy Scriptures. He was 
sparing of words, courteous in manners, moderate 
at the table and reserved in public. The body was 
ruled by the spirit that dwelt in it. He was marked 


as a young man of warm zeal, deep humility and 
dauntless conra-e. Having passed through the 
schools of his own country, and still eager for 
knowledge, In- \\ent to Rome. 

Ailred tells us that when Ninian came to Rome, 
the blessed youth wept over the relics of the 
apostles and gave himself to their care. If he 
did, he had no suspicion that a gross deception was 
practiced upon him. The " pope" received him as 
a son. He was thereupon handed over to certain 
teachers, who well knew how to manage a simple- 
hearted student, lie soon discovered that his own 
people did not understand the Scriptures as mm 
interpreted them at Rome. He was led to think 
that the Briton Christians were greatly in error, 
but on what points we are not informed. Doubt- 
less they had simpler forms of worship; they had 
less regard lor relies, outward rites, the sign of the 
cross, clerical rule.- and tonsure, festival day-, 
lituririe- and hi^hi-r orders of clergy; they did not 

iv-anl the bi.-hop ,f Rome as the Mleee-x.r nf 

St. Peter, nor a> the bond of unity in the( ImVtian 
( hun-h. They held < liri-t as their master and tin- 
only Kini: in /ion. The eyes of Ninian M 
blinded. He thought that hi- eountryineii had not 
fully come up to the faith ; he did not see that 


Rome had begun to depart from it. He resolved 
to impart his new ideas to his brethren. The story 
is that the Roman bishop ordained him as "the 
first apostle" to his people, and sent him forth with 
his benediction. 

When Ninian returned to his own country, he 
was received with great demonstrations of joy. 
The people gathered about him. They held him 
as one of the prophets. They praised Christ for 
what they saw and heard. They were not heathen, 
and yet a the first apostle to his own people" had 
come! Rome ignored the former teachers and 
presbyters: she now sent a " bishop." But they 
looked upon him as a follower of Christ and of 
his fathers. It is related that on his homeward 
way he had visited Martin of Tours, studied 
architecture, and brought with him a company of 
builders. A spot was chosen in the southern part 
of Galloway, near a deserted Roman camp, and 
the rally ing-point of a Caledonian tribe. It was 
not far from the seat of a Culdee establishment. 
There a church was built of bright white stone ; 
hence its name, Candida Casa, or Whitherne.* 

* Now Whithorn. The town of this name is on the main 
shore. Near it is an island, which " has some remains of a very 
ancient small church, believed to have been one of the earliest 


" There," says his biographer, " the candle being 
placed in its candlestick, it began to give forth its 
light, with heavenly signs to those who were in the 
house of God, and its graces radiating, those who 
were dark in their mind were enlightened by the 
bright and burning word of God, and the frigid 
were warmed." We reject the miracles ascribed to 
him by Ailred, who says they are "credible only 
by such as believe that nothing is impossible to 
the faithful." He seems to have laid aside his 
Roman notions, and assumed no high prelatic 
powers. He was doubtless an earnest missionary, 
labouring more to make converts to Christ than to 
Rome. In the wilds of Galloway he taught sound 
doctrine and scriptural discipline, "lie opened 
hi- month with the word of (Jod, through the grace 
of the Holy Spirit," says Ailred. " The faith is 
received, error is put away, the [heathen] temples 
are destroyed, churches are erected: men ru-h to 
the fountain oi -:i\ ing cleansing the rich and tin- 
poor alike, young men and maidens ..Id men and 
children, mothers with their infant-; ivn-MineiiiL: 
Satan and all hi- work- and p.. nip-, they are 
joined to the family of believers by fhith, and 

stone striictun-s of its class in Scotland." Nebmft Handbook 


word, and sacraments." Such was his work 
among the Southern Picts. Perhaps he extended 
his labours north of the Roman Wall. Who 
knows but that he visited Alcluyd, lodged with 
Calpurnius, filled the lad Patrick with wonder, and 
talked late into the night with the venerable Po- 
titus ? Who knows but that this aged presbyter 
convinced him of Rome s advance in error, and 
confirmed him in the ancient faith of the Culdees? 
He seems to have done little for Rome and 
much for Christ. At a ripe age he died in peace. 
More than a score of Scottish churches were named 
in honour of this zealous missionary. Rome 
canonized him ; it had been better if she had re 
turned to his doctrines. That he was free from 
error we do not assert. We have endeavoured to 
sketch the man,* that we might have before us the 
portrait of a Christian Briton, who lived in the 
time of Saint Patrick s youth. No great mission 
ary was more likely to influence the mind of the 
grandson of Potitus. 

* Consult Bede s Eccl. Hist., McLauchlan s Early Scottish 
Church, The Spottiswoode Miscellany^ Neander s Church 



K may imagine the deacon Calpurnins walk 
ing solemnly by the side of the pale Con- 
che a, hearing an intiint son in his arm-, 
and turning to a fountain* near to a Culdee 
then joining fervently in the simple service! 
of wor.-hip, and praying silently that the Lord will 
hi- neighbours who gace upon the -cene; then 

to what i- -aid of God s holy covenant 

with hi- j pie and their little ones and holding 

forth hi- child to receive the token of it< surrender 

to the Fath T, the >.al of its redemption by the 

Boo and the -yiubol of it- renewal by the Holy 
(Iho-f. \Ve almoal MC the reverent piv-byter t;ike 
his jrrand-oii and with the word- of < hri-t applv 
to him the water. ,,f bapli-m, L r ivc him the ki-- 
"f p- >laOfi him in the arm- of the tearful 

Fiuiit:iiim aid \v-]U S.MMII l. li:iv- | .it an r:irly 

1 for ii ip;i-iu ; i ;, . o >"( land 

and Ind:ind. 

t An .iiiririit ("Hioin. 7 / / / /.;- / 1/ Ancient Hrli". 


Conchessa, and lift his hands for the prayer and 
benediction. We are told that to this child was 
given the name of Succath in his baptism. At a 
later day he was called Patrick.* 

In this we have supposed nothing more than 
may have been true. But the story-tellers of the 
Middle Ages imagined things that are hugely false, 
and made sad work of the life of Saint Patrick. 
Among their lying legends the facts are almost 
lost. Not content with marvels, they invented 
miracles. What wonders the child performed, even 
before he breathed ! He is but an infant when he 
makes the sign of the cross on the ground, and on 
the spot a fountain flows whose waters cure the 
blind. Is the water flooding his mother s floor ? 
He drops fire from his fingers and every drop is 
dried away. Does his aunt want a bundle of 
fagots ? The boy Patrick brings ice in his arms 
and makes a rousing fire with it. Does his sister 
Lupita fall and bruise her forehead ? He heals 
the wounds in an instant. While herding the flock 

* Keating s Hist, of Ireland. Place s Hymn runs : "Succat 
his name at the beginning." Succat in old British means 
" the god of war," or " strong in war." An odd name, says 
Lanigan, for the child of a Christian deacon. Not more odd 
than for Palladius to bear a name derived from the heathen 
goddess Pallas. 2W* St. Patrick, 363. 


he grow- outlaw ; a wolf eotiMl and steals one of 
the tine.-t Iambs. The lad is reproved, but he prays 
all night, and lo ! in the morning the rogui.-h thief 
brings back the lamb, lays it unhurt at his feet, 
and then tiers to the woods! Thus we might go 
on heaping up the non.-en.-e i ound in the first 
thirteen chapter- of a book written by Joceline. a 
monk of the twelfth century. No wonder that one 
Romi.-h author rejects such legend- a- -tories 
u foiled in l.y the credulous writers of tho.-c dark 
. whn were tor heaping miracle- upon the backs 
of their -aim- which the present times are not ex- 
peet. d i -ive credit to ;" and another declares that 
they are "oMMIgfc t< rouse the imliguatinu of every 
\>\n\i< reader." It i- high time for the Romani-ts 
to pur-e the old "Lives of the Saint-" as 
thoroughly as theynung Tatrirk i- .-aid to have 
cleane.l the tortress and stables of the cruel lord of 
l>unbriton; for t he -lory is, t hat tin- tyrant ordered 
Patrick .- aunt to do the ,-lavi-h job, but the lad 
came forward like a man, and by miracle made -uch 
a riddance* of all tra-hthat none wa- ever found 
afterward in the whole c-tabli-hmrnt. 

\Ve mii-t believe that thcyoi m ,r I ;i t!-i,-k had all 
the human nature of a boy. He was not a saint. 
Hi- deed- WON not holy. It i- far more likely 


that he complained of his oatmeal porridge at 
breakfast, and ran away from his mother to the 
trout-streams to catch something better for dinner; 
that when sent into town on an errand he took the 
" Rock on the Clyde" in his way, and loitered for 
an hour on the top looking for savage Highland 
ers; that he threw snowballs at some wandering 
Druid, or talked long with the Roman soldiers 
when he ought to have been tending his father s 

He was taught the holy commandments,* but 
he did not keep them. He was " warned for his 
salvation/ but he heeded not the preachers. " I 
knew not the true God," he said in his old age, as 
he looked back upon the days of his youth. He 
must have meant that he knew not God as his 
heavenly Father, nor Christ as his Saviour ; he did 
not love him nor obey the truth. No doubt his 
parents taught him the way to be saved, for he 
seems to have remembered the lessons of home in 
his captivity. His grandfather must have had a 
Bible, and taught Patrick to read it, as Ninian was 
taught. But he had no heart for the truth. " He 
was fond of pleasure, and delighted to be the 
leadei of his youthful companions. In the midst 
*Confessio Patrieii, near the beginning. 


of his frivolities he committed a serious fault." * 
What it was we know not ; it proves that he was 
not holy from his infancy not "always a Chris 
tian," as Alban Butler declares him to have been, f 
He was then fifteen years of age. 

It was not always safe for him to lead a troop of 
young friends down the Clyde to hold their sports 
on its banks, or to stroll up the glen and make 
merrv with -<>me jovial shepherd and his flock. 
For pirates often drew their boats into some cove, 
wandered over the hills, seized upon the playful 
children, carried them away to strange lands and 
sold them into slavery. With bolder steps they some 
times man-hed into villages, slew the strong men, 
abused the a<jed, plundered the houses or set them 
on fire, laid waste the gardens, stole the cattle and 
took off the children. As Sir Walter Scott says of 
the I>anMi pirates: " They were heathens, and did 
not believe in the Iiil>le, but thought of nothing 
but battle and -laiiirhttT and making plunder." 
Mn-t of the Unman -.Idicrs had been called Imme; 
so few were left that they were not able to protect 
the prnplr ahm^ the Clyde. 

One day a band of these robbers came like 

*D Aui.; 

f l.i\v<Mf ih- S.-iint-, M;irch 17. 


vultures upon the town, and, after every sort of 
outrage, they carried off Patrick and about two 
hundred of the villagers. The captives were placed 
in the boats,* and the prows were turned down 
the Clyde and toward Ireland. What sad thoughts 
in the mind of Patrick as he gazed back at the 
high rock so near his home ! What anger toward 
the pirates ! But he afterward saw a reason for it 
all ; the hand of God was laid severely upon him 
to correct his evil ways. " I was taken captive, 
when I was nearly sixteen years old. I knew not 
the true God, and I was carried in captivity to 
Ireland, with many thousandsf of men, according 
to our deserts, because we had gone back from 
God, and had not kept his commandments, and 
were not obedient to our priests, who used to warn 
us for our salvation. And the Lord brought upon 
us the wrath of his displeasure, and scattered us 

*Curachs, no doubt made of wicker and covered with ox 
hides. They were used by the people of the British Isles 
long after the Norwegians showed them how to build small 

f Not " many thousands" in his company, but " many thous 
ands" in a like condition of bondage, taken a\v:iy at various 
times and to various countries. We read of British captives at 
Kome in the sixth century, of whom Gregory said, "Non 
Angli, sed angeli." 


many nations, even unto the ends of the 

Who were those pirates? Were they Irishman, 
led by Niall of the Nine Hostages? This daring 
corsair roved over the seas, and excelled in the 
plave-trade before, we suppose, Saint Patrick was 
1. >rn. Those who fix his birth before the year 387 
attribute the capture to Niall,f the ancestor of the 
O Neills, and "martial hero of the Irish." Of 
him an ancient poet sin^s, that he, 

By force of arms, and martial skill, 
Subdued tin- r.-l.ds who opposed his right; 
And, as a pledge of their allegiance, 

lilirtl livr lio-t.i^i-s of noblr blood; 
And, to >i-ciin- tin- homa^ of thr Scots, 
II iv.-i t r.,n!iiu-d four hostages of note; 

II H prince the ancient records cail 
Tlu- Ili-ro of the Nine Hostagi. 

On one of his excursions for plunder he was 

-hut with an am>\\ and died on the spot. He was 

crrtainly j^n-at nimi^li t. carry away Sain 1 Patrick, 

wanting at tin- time. lim lie appears not to have 
lived long enon-h I -T >M-h a dcod. It i.-> more 

Conf. I at 

\ Keating, L:inigan, D Aubigiu , Wilson. 


likely that the captors were led by some other 
chieftain. When the Romans were ".eaving the 
Clyde, the poor Britons were at the mercy of their 
foes. The old wall was no defence. On neither 
side of the line did the gospel of peace reign. 
The Picts shouted, the Britons groaned, and the 
Irish ran in and took the spoils and the prey. 

There is another version of the story which 
merits a respectful notice. It is, that the capture 
was made in Brittany, in the North of France. 
Some writers, who think that Saint Patrick was 
not born near Boulogne, suppose that his parents 
left the Clyde and settled on the coast of Gaul.* 
The commentator on Fiacc s Hymn gives the legend 
thus : " This was the cause of the servitude of 
Patrick. His father, mother, brother and five 
sisters all went from the Britons of Alcluaid, across 
the Iccian sea southward, on a journey to the 
Britons of Letha. . . . Then came seven sons 
of Sectmaide, king of Britain, in ships. . . . 
and they made great plunder on the Britons of 
Armoric Letha, where Patrick with his family 
was, and they wounded Calpurnius there, and 
carried off Patrick and Lupait [his sister] with 
them to Ireland, and sold them." 
* So D AubignS. 

SA /A 7 PATRICK. 47 

Tin.- Mo,-y is usually supported by the fact that 
a colony of Northern Briton- had lately settled in 
Gaul, giving to that re^inn the name of Brittany, 
if indeed the Brittani had not dwelt there centuries 
before. It was at first a Roman military ml. my, 
consisting of British warriors. "Thou di that 

** O 

country had from the earliest times, by descent, 
language and Druid ism, been related to Britain, 
yet the now colonists, who were followed by many 
others, both male and female, served unqnestinn- 
ably to hind more elo.-ely and to preserve ihe c,.n- 
ne<-ti(.n between Bretagne and the Britons of Wales 
and Cornwall. . . . But Britain was thereby de 
prived of her luave-t warriors, and thence the more 
easily l.eeame an early prey to foreign invader-. 
. I iet- and Saxons continued to trouble it."* 
Thi- mlnny nii-ht have resisted the pirate- more 
Mi-oniily than the dwellers on the Clyde. If 
Patrick had been there, he might have been sal . ; 
it hi.- parent- wiv tiering thither for -al ety, he mav 
have been captured nn tie way. But the whole 
-tory seenM to be founded in the wi-h to connect 
Saint Patrick with the limnans and the Roman 

Hi~t. ..! Ki^hii.i uinK-r tin- 
vol. i. | M .. , ;,. nl Driui,^ vol. ii. 

p. 72. 


Church. The better authorities do not support it. 
The second, third and fourth " Lives" in Colgan s 
collection make Patrick to have been captured 
"near Alcluaid," by a fleet of Irish pirates. 
About six years later he is found at home again 
with his parents in Britain, a country named as 
one entirely distinct from Gaul. 

In the Confession there is not a word to show 
that Saint Patrick had brothers and sisters. But 
on this subject the monks seem to have been quite 
inventive, placing on the family roll of Calpurnius 
a list of descendants long enough to supply two or 
three kingdoms with bishops, priests, monks and 
nuns. One sister was carried to Ireland and became 
the mother of seventeen bishops ! Another counted 
among her sons four bishops and three priests ; she 
was Limania, whose eldest son was Sechnall, a 
bishop, and the youngest, Lugna, a priest. There 
was perhaps a Sechnall or Secundinus, who wrote 
a poem upon the life of St. Patrick, one of the 
most ancient in existence. But who his mother 
was none can tell. 

A few years since, Dr. George Petrie * found on 
the " Island of the Religious Foreigner," in the 

* Round Towers and Ecclesiastical Architecture of Ireland, 
by George Petrie, p. 162 ; Todd s St. Patrick, p. 365. 


county of Gal way, Ireland, a tomb-stone whose 
date ran scarcely be later than the beginning of the 
Mxth century. On it is this Celtic inscription: 
Lie L/ugnaedon Macclmene " The stone of Lugna, 
son of Linumia." Perhaps it was raised over the 
grave of a nephew of Saint Patrick. He may have 
been a native of Britain, gone as a Culdee mis 
sionary to Ireland, had his cell on the little island, 
and there died ; \vhenrr the place was called "the 
Isle of the Religious Foreigner." For this there is 
one fossil fact, a mere name on a gravestone, which 
happens to agree with a line in a legend. But for 
the real wr have only tiililrs, and Tillemont was 
.-air in rejecting them all. 

The small boats which carried the young Patrick 
and his companions, with a weight of spoils, would 
}>< likely to make land at some near point. Leav 
ing tin- Firth of the Clyde, a straight course west 
would .brini; them upon the Antrim coast, just 
where tradition fixes the landing. This tends to 
show that the capture was not in Gaul, but at 
Aleluyd. It appear that Patrick was first sold to 
four brothers. Fiacc s hymn r\\i\< : 

1 1 was called Cathraige, 
For he served four families." * 

* Latin version by Colgan. 


One of these brothers is said to have been 
Milchu, a savage master, a cruel king of Dalaradia, 
and a Druid. Not liking the joint-stock arrange 
ment, and greatly pleased with the faithfulness of 
the slave, he bought the shares of his brothers and 
became sole possessor. Patrick might well prefer 
to serve one master rather than four, even if the 
one was a tyrant. 

At this point we have light from the Confession. 
It shows that Patrick was sent daily into the fields 
to herd cattle ; that he watched them by night, in 
the rain, in the snows, and all the year long, and 
that these severe trials were to him a means of 
grace. He remembered happier days. He thought 
upon his sins. He felt that he was far from Christ, 
the true home of his soul. He recalled the teach 
ings of God s servants, and the lessons learned in 
his father s house. The seed of truth, long buried 
in his heart, sprang up and grew. Not in vain 
had he been devoted to the Lord in his infancy, 
and taught how to pray; not in vain were his 
parents prayers still renewed and ascending to the 
Great High Priest, who was touched with the feel 
ing of their infirmities and his bitter endurances. 

" After I had come to Ireland," he says in the 
Confession, " I was employed every day in tending 


sheep ; and I used to stay in the woods and on the 
mountain. I prayed frequently. The love and 
the ii-ar of God and faith increased so miieh. and 
the spirit of prayer so grew within me, that I often 
prayed an hundred times in the day, and almost as 
often in the ni^ht. 1 frequently rose to prayer in 
the \vonds bell .re daylight, in snow, and frost, and 
rain ; and I felt no evil, nor was there any sloth 
in me; for, as I now see, the Spirit was burning 
within me. 

"And there the Lord opened my unbelieving 
mind, so that, even late, I thought of my sins, and 
my whole heart was turned to the Lord my God, 
who looked down upon my low condition, had pitv 
on my youth and ignoranee, and preserved me 
before J knew him, and before I knew good from 
evil, and guarded, protected and cherished me, 
as a father would a son. This I certainly know, 
that b t!.iv (iod humbled me I wa- like a stone 
lyiiiLT di-rp in the mire; but when he came, who 
had all power to do it, he raised me in his 
Jin-rev and put me on a very high place. Where- 
i ; " v I miiM notify aloud, in nrd.-r to make some 
return to the Lord for such grM blessings, in time 
and in eternity, which no human rea-on i- able 
to estimate." 


Such was the experience of young Patrick; 
religion with him was deep heart-work. Its 
power came from the Lord ; the Holy Ghost im 
parted the love and fear of God. Such was his 
account of his conversion, written in his old age. 
How he remembered those first convictions of sin 
and helplessness, the earnestness of those first 
prayers, the ardour of that first love, and all that 
blessedness ! He drew the portrait of a new con 
vert without intending it. How much does it 
reveal ! If a painting by Raphael tells us the 
state of art among the Italians in his time, does 
not Saint Patrick s description of his own ex 
perience tell us what religion was held to be in his 
days by the Irish Christians ? It was not ritual, 
but spiritual ; not a matter of forms, but of faith ; 
not penance, but repentance ; not saint-worship, 
but the grateful adoration of God ; not priest -work, 
but heart-work ; not a mere reform of the conduct, 
but a regeneration of the soul. Surely he was 
never the man that thousands of his adorers be 
lieve him to have been ! That portrait would never 
have been drawn by a papist. The young man 
whom it represented, and the old man who drew 
it, were the same Patrick; and surely he never 
believed that a church must confer the salvation 


of Christ that God s grace and Spirit must come 
through the hands of a priest! To what confes 
sional did he go in the wilderness but that only 
one of God, the mercy-seat, the throne of grace? 
That was ever near him amid the rain, the snow, 
and the darkness. To whom could he go but unto 
Him who had the words of eternal life? 

"Such words as these," says D Aubigne, "from 
tin- lips of a swineherd* in the green pastures of 
Ireland, set dearly before us the Christianity 
\vhieh in the fourth and fifth centuries converted 
many souls in the British Isles. In after years 
Rome e.-tabli.-hed the dominion of priests :ind 
salvation by forms, independently of the disposi 
tions <>f the heart; but the primitive religion of 
these celebrated islands was that living ( liristianity 
whose MI! Mane.- is the grace of Jesus Christ, and 
whose power is the grace of the Holy Ghost. The 
herd-man from the banks of the Clyde was then 
undeivinLT those experience-; which so many 
evangelical ( hri.-tians in those countries have since 
undergone. Evangelical faith, even then, existed 
in the BritMi Island- in the pn^on of this -lave, 
and of some fc\v ( hri-t ians brn again, like him, 
from on hi^h." 

* Quoting Uther: porcoi -rtU. 



IX years wore away, but there seemed to be 
no promotion for Patrick. Twenty-two 
years of age, vigorous and enterprising, he 
thought of being something else than a 
herdsman. A heavenly Father s correction had 
wakened him from his sleep of death to a higher 
life ; the great Shepherd had a nobler work for him 
to do. He began to have dreams, as so many of 
God s servants have had in all ages, wondering 
what they meant, and whether a divine hand and 
voice were in them. It will not appear strange to 
most Christians that several of his dreams are re 
corded in the Confession. Those who choose may 
treat them as legends, unworthy of credit; he 
seems to have thought they came from God. 

One night, as he tells us, he seemed to hear a 
voice saying, "Thy fasting is well; thou shalt 
soon return to thy country." He waited, watched, 
but no way of return appeared. Again he dreamed, 
and the sa. ne voice said, " Behold, the ship is 



ready for you." But he was told that it was far 
di-taut.* Hi- did not feel bound to go to his 
master, tell him all. settle up :i Hairs, shake hands 
and bid him farewell. If the cruel chief found 
that his favourite slave was missing sonic morning, 
he must make the best of it. The Lord was re 
covering his stolen property. * I took to flight," 
li<- informs us, "ami left the man with whom 1 had 
hem for six years. I went in the power of the 
Lord, who directed my way for good, :in d I feared 
nothing until I came to the place where the ship 
lay. The ship was then clcarintr "Ut, and I asked 
for a. passage in her. The master of the vessel 
became angry and said, "Do not pretend to come 
with us." On hearing this 1 retired, lor the pur 
pose of going to the cabin where I had been re 
ceived :i.~ a jruest, t and while going thither I began 
to pray. But before I had finished my prayer, I 
heard one of the men crying out to me, "Come 
back quickly, for these men are calling you." I 

* "Two hundred miles," is ih present reading in the Book 

\rm:iKh. liut it IB supposed to be an error of the tran- 

prrilwr. The scholiast on Place s Hymn has it, Sixty 

iniU-.s, or, as others says, a hundred/ a proof thnt tlu-re were 

various readings or traditions. Todda Si. Patrick, p. 367. 

f Or " to the hut where I used to dwell," at the risk of being 
ill-treated by his master. Tttlemont. 


returned at once. They said to me, " Come, for we 
receive you in faith ; make friends with us, as you 
please !" 

He was surprised to hear them speak of faith, 
for he saw that they were heathens, but he hoped 
they meant to say, " Come in the faith of Jesus 
Christ," or he hoped that they might come over to 
the faith of Christ. He went with them. They 
were three days* at sea, probably making for the 
coast of Scotland. The sea must have been rough, 
the course lost, the harbour missed and the vessel 
driven upon some desolate shore. For twenty- 
eight days they " wandered in a desert, ;" a region 
laid waste by the ravages of the warlike tribes, or 
from which pirates had caused the natives to flee. 
They ran short of provisions. Patrick seems to 
have spoken to the sailors of the power of God, of 
prayer and of trust in his providence. Want 
would impress the lesson. 

" What sayest thou, Christian ?" asked the leader 
of the party. " Thy God is great and all-powerful. 
* Dr. Lanigan brings Patrick from Dalaradia, full two hun 
dred miles, to Bantry Bay, thence in three days to the 
coast of Gaul. He gives credit to a story that the fugitive had 
been seized by a wild Irishman and sold to certain sailors or 
merchants of Gaul. Ecd. Hist., i. 150. The legends bandy 
him about as a slave and captive most wonderfully. 


Why, then. canst thou not pray to him for us? For 
we perish with hunger, and can find here no in 

" Turn ye in faith to ray Lord God, to whom 
nothing is impossible," Patrick replied, "and he 
will send you food, for he has abundance every 
where." Soon they came upon a herd of swine; 
they slew, ate, rested and remained in that place 
I m- two nights. "After this," he says, M they gave 
thanks to God and I was honoured in their eyes." 
When some wild honey was found, one of the 
.-a i lore offered Patrick a part of it, saying, "This 
is an offering, thanks to God !" But he refused it, 
suspecting that the man had some superstition-; 
notions in his mind, or had offered it to a heathen 

l^< M 1 . 

The same night an event occurred which he could 
never forget. He must have had a night -man- : 
he thought it a temptation of Satan. " I felt a- if 
a great stone had fallen upon me. I could nt 
move a limb. How it came into my mind to call 
out Helia8 [or Eli] I know not ; but at that mo 
ment I saw the >un ri-inu in the heaven-, and 
whil.-t I cried nut //// /*/ lliHnx! with all my 
mi^ht, lo, the brightness of the -tin fell upon me, 
and straightway removed all the weight." 


This has been considered " a sufficient proof"* 
that in his earlier days Saint Patrick invoked the 
saints. But it is no proof at all. Even if he 
called upon Elias, he says that he knew not how it 
came into his mind. It was something unusual ; 
it was not his habit in youth ; he could not explain 
how it happened in his old age. Moreover, Elias 
was never invoked as a saint in the Roman Church 
before the fourteenth century, nor in the Greek 
before the tenth. In some of the more ancient 
" Lives" the word is not " Helias" but " Eli." It 
may have stood thus in the original copy of the 
Confession, as Dr. Todd suggests.f 

But what did Patrick mean by Eli ?" If he 
knew the gospels, he must have remembered the 
Saviour s loud cry, when on the cross. Without 
knowing what it meant, he may have used it in 
his strange distress. But the name Eli, " my God," 
was sometimes applied to Christ in the early 
centuries, as in the hymn of Hilary of Poictiers. 
Patrick might have heard it thus used before he was 
a captive. When in trouble he may have uttered it; 
he " knew not how it came into his mind." He 
was not accustomed to invoke God by that name in 

*Lanigan, Carew. 

fTodd s St. Patrick, pp. 370-373. 


his prayers. No miracle is described. He cried 
aloud, and just then the sun was i-Mnir. The spell 
WBI L r "iic. But he long afterward believed that 
(i<.d flowed him men y at that time. No saiut 
had helped him. He says, "I am persuaded that 
J was relieved by Chri.-t my Lord, and that his 
Spirit t hen cried out for me, and I tru.-t it maybe 
so in the day of my trouble, for the Lord saith in 
the gospel, It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit 
of your Father, which speaketh in you !"* When 
he was so nearly a>lecp, and BO benumbed that he 
did not think of calling upon his God, the Spirit 
prompted him to pray. This may he his meaning. 
\\V have dwelt upon this, because it is the only 
instance in the ( mill >H <>n which can be wrested to 
MijijM.rt the invocation of the .-a into. 

For sixty da\> Patrick \\andered about with the 
sailors. This gave rise to the story of a second 
captivity ;f perhaps he so regarded it. It is 
evident that lie jrrew weary of his company, for he 
says that on the sixtieth ni^ht (after leaving his 

Matthew x. 20. 

f I P.I.II-. tin- HnlhiiMli-ts, ami others. Neander repre 
sent* him a> carried away again from hi home by pirates, 
and "after sixty days" restored to liUrty. Mem. Ch. Life, p. 


master, probably) "the Lord delivered me from 
their hands." The accounts of his wanderings on 
the French coasts,, con verting the mariners, going 
home with them and converting their countrymen, 
travelling about in Europe and ever drifting 
Homeward, have not a shadow of foundation in 
the Confession. It goes on to say : " After a few 
years [of absence in captivity] I was again with 
my parents in Britain,* who received me as a son, 
and earnestly besought me never to leave them 
again, after having endured such great tribula 

The Clyde, the great rock, the few lingering 
Roman soldiers and the home of his youth had no 
longer any power to retain him in his native land. 
To prove himself a real Succath, " strong in war," 
and make himself a captain fearful in Pictish eyes, 
was not to his mind. He had other thoughts. 
Loving them still, he could leave father and 
mother for the sake of Christ. When he slept he 
saw Ireland in visions, and heard the voices of its 
youth calling upon him to hasten and help them. 
Of his dream he says, " In the dead of night I 
saw a man coming to me as if from Ireland, whose 

f Brittaniis. Villanueva reads, " Britannia." Bede used 
the plural form, for Britain was divided into several parts. 


name was Victor,* bearing innumerable epistles. 
And he gave me one of them, and I read the be 
ginning of it, which contained the words, The 
voice of the Irish. And while repeating them, I 
imagined that I heard in my mind the voice of 
those who were near the wood of Foclut, which is 
near the Western Sea. Thus they cried, We 
pray thee, holy youth, to come and henceforth walk 
among us. I was pierced in heart, and could 
read no more; and so I awoke. Thanks be to 
God, that after very many years the Lord granted 
unto them the blessing for which they cried ! 

" Again on another night I know not, God 
knoweth, whether it was within me or near me, I 
heard distinctly words which I could not under 
stand, except these at the close : He who gave his 
life for thee is he who speaketh in thee. And so 
1 ;i\voke rejoicing." In some of his dreams he 
was led to recall such texts of Scripture as these : 
"The Spirit helpeth our infirmities." "Christ, 
who maketh intercession for us." If such was the 
effect of his dreaming, it was not in vain. There 

* This man Victor is called an angel in the " Lives" written 
by Saint Patrick s adorers. The name is given to his supposed 
guardian angel. What he relates aa a dream they represent 
as a reality. What he " imagined" they make miraculous. 


is nothing here absurd. All is quite consistent 
with the feelings of a man who is enthusiastic 
and eager to tell the good news of salvation to a 
barbarous people. We should not forget his object 
in telling these dreams. It was to show that he 
did not assume the ministry of his own accord. 
He was not sent by men. He felt that he was 
called of God. If he thought that his call was 
supernatural, and that there was something more 
than imagination in his visions, it was only what 
many other excellent men have thought concerning 
their own dreams. Rightly or wrongly, he took 
them as signs that he was commissioned by the 
Lord to preach the gospel in Ireland. 

Is it at all likely that he spent thirty-five years 
in studies and travels before returning to Ireland ? 
Is it likely that he waited until he was sixty years 
of age before preaching anywhere ? Did he roam 
about from the year 395 to the year 432, now 
studying with Martin of Tours, now at the re 
nowned monastery at Lerins, and again at Rome ? 
And all this time dreaming of Ireland, and think 
ing that God was calling him to the work? It 
can hardly be credited. But we may well sup 
pose that he studied for several years in the best 
school that he could afford. 



Y (I HILE Patrick is preparing for his work in 

I Ireland, let us see how far the field ia pre- 
pared for him. We shall thus understand 

& that some efforts of his predecessors were 
afterward ascribed to him in order to increase his 

It is, to this day, the boast of every true Irish 
man that Erin was never invaded by the Romans 
the Caesars gained no footing there. Its brave, 
warlike, hospitable, high-minded people detested 
the idea of being a mere province of the great 
empire. They appear to have sent boat-loads of 
heroes across the Channel to aid their brethren, the 
Scots, against the foreign army on the Clyde. 
Hating Roman soldiers, woul< I they love Roman 
missionaries? It nii^lit have been hard for even a 
Briton to gain a hearing among them. 

Who first taught i 1 in Ireland has never 

been shown to the people of our days. It may be 
putt ing the case too boldly to say that " the Church 


of Lyons and that of Ireland were both founded 
by Greeks, and the Scotch and Irish clergy long 
spoke no other tongue. 7 * O Halloran, a Romanist, 
says : " I strongly suspect that by Asiatic or 
African missionaries, or through them by Spanish 
ones, were our ancestors instructed in Christianity, 
because they rigidly adhered to their customs as to 
tonsure and the time of Easter. Certain it is that 
Patrick found a hierarchy established in Ireland." 
As to the " hierarchy" there is no evidence. The 
very notion of one, before Patrick, is stoutly op 
posed by other Roman Catholic historians. " It is 
certain," says Father Brenan, "that there was 
neither a hierarchy nor a Christian bishop in 
Ireland antecedent to the period of which we are 
treating (431), although it is highly probable that 
the natives, in many parts of the island, were 
by no means unacquainted with the Christian 
religion." f 

No doubt at an early day there were in the 
southern part of Ireland "some few Christian 
families, separated from each other, and probably 
ignorant of each other s existence. ... It cannot 
be denied that the traditions of Irish Church 

* Michelet, Hist, of France, ch. iii. 
f Brenan s Eccl. Hist, of Ireland, ch. i. 


history speak of isolated congregations of Chris 
tians in Ireland before the arrival of Patrick."* 
They are to be counted among " the Scots believ 
ing on Christ" before Pal hid ins was sent to them 
as their "first l>i-hop," as a bishop was then held 
to be at Komc. The case will be cleared if we 
assume that their teachers and ministers were 
Culdce- that in many a quiet place was a cell, 
and the simple-hearted people gathered to hear the 
Word and \vorship God. 

The affairs of " the infant Church" of Ireland 
began to be talked of at Rome, where Celestine 
was chit-f bishop, and the error was gaining 
strength that he was the high pontiff of all the 
churchc.- in the world. The Christians of Ireland 
ought to acknowledge him as "the holy lather" 
and pope! W hat a blessing to them, if they only 
knew it! The L r,,.p ( .l mill-lit lewith them, but the 
order- of clergy wen- wanting. They might have 
Clm-i, but they had not the Church in its latest 
and most improved form. They had followed the 
simple apM-tle-, but were far behind the wise 
fathers. They mi^ht have presbyters, but they had 
no high prelate riot even "a bishop J" 

Celestine wa- m->ved " by the increasing number 
*T. .Mik, pp. 189,221. 


of Christians there,"* to act as a father toward 
"the infant Church" of the remote island. He 
would knit ties between it and the Church of Rome. 
Those artless Christians should have all the benefit 
of the improvements invented by men, who saw 
in the great Roman empire their model for Chris 
tendom, and who constructed offices in the Church 
to correspond with the offices in the State. They 
should have a bishop, a sort of church pro-consul, 
or resident legate one who would not merely look 
after the sheep, but hold a general rule over the 
shepherds. He cast his eye about on his clergy to 
find a proper man. He wished to send him, not to 
the heathen Irish, but to " the Scotsf believing on 
Christ," and yet, " whose faith was not right ;" not 
to be a missionary, but a ruler; not merely to 
preach, but to use power; not to convert the 
ignorant so much as to confirm the believers in the 
gospel according to Rome ; not to bring the pagans 
unto Christ, so much as to bring Christians under 
the Roman Church. 

Among the men of promise and zeal was Pal- 

* Moore s Hist. Ireland, p. 209. 

f The Scots of Ireland as well as of Scotland. Thackeray 
supposes that Patrick requested Celestine to send a bishop to 
Ireland. Anc. Brit. ii. 166. 

.v.i /.v y y.i y/;/ K. 67 

lad i us. There is small proof that he was a native 
of Britain and a deacon of the Church of Rome. 
It seems clearer that he was quite sound in doctrine, 
holding with Aujru-tine tin ^reat truths of man s 
native depravity, inability to save himself ami need 
of Christ s atonement and power. He was grieved 
to see the errors of IVhiirins taking root in the 
British Isles errors growing out of the denial of 
man s sinfulness by nature, and leading fallen 
sinners to think that they could save themselves by 
their own moral works. He wished some strong 
defender of the faith to be sent to Britain, in 
answer to a loud call from that quarter for the aid 
of some defender of the truth. Perhaps he had 
some part in >< ndin^ Gcrmanus in his own stead, 
t< displace the heretics and direct the Britons to 
the Catholic faith."* Perhaps it was he who told 
Celestinr aUo of the believers in Ireland " wlio-r 
faith was not right." Their error, however, was 
not iVla-jiani-m. 

Hen- wa> tlic man to place over tin- < hri-tian> 
of In-hind. lit- w:i.- rui-ed to a bi.-hop, and \.\). 
431 .-em forth by Celeetiiu ,t with a -oodly array 

* I rospi-r s ( hroniclt . I --!>. r - 1 : . ,ti|. 

f " France wan probably I lie country iVnin wliicb I .illadiiH 
and lii> companiong came; and tin- mi-ion to Ireland. ..! 


of attendants. He went thinking that those 
" believers greatly needed the unity which a bishop 
alone could give them." Of course some of the 
Romish historians relate that Patrick was chosen 
to attend Palladius. Of course they represent the 
bishop as carrying with him, not only a copy of the 
Sacred Scriptures, but also " a portion of the relics 
of St. Peter and St. Paul !" 

Palladius thus appears as " an emissary of the 
Roman See, whose object was to organize Chris 
tianity among the Scots of Ireland and Scotland, 
in accordance with what was then the Roman 
model. The civil power of Rome being on the 
wane, the ecclesiastical power began to rise on its 
ruins, and there may have been no little connection 
between the two processes ; the loss of one species 
of power may have helped an ambitious people, 
accustomed to universal dominion, to seek after the 
establishment of another."* 

On the Wicklow coast he landed, but he was 
not well received. Why not? An old Irish 
chronicler says of him : " He was sent to convert 

which he was the head, although sanctioned by the See of 
Rome, was in reality projected and sent forth by the Gallican 
Church." Todds St. Patrick, p. 280. 
* McLauchlan, Early Scot. Ch. p. 88. 


this island, lying under wintry cold, but God 
hindered him, for no man can receive anything 
from earth unless it be given him from heaven ; 
for neither did those fierce and savage men receive 
his doctrine readily, nor did he himself wish to 
spend time in a land not his own." 

It appears that he began to preach "in the 
country of the Hy Garchon," but their prince, 
Nathi, took offence, and ordered him to leave. 
Palladius had not the zeal needed to force his 
opinions and make converts, nor the courage of 
which heroes and martyrs are made, or he had such 
tenderness toward the native Christians that he did 
not wish to bring trouble upon them. Some tell 
us that he was driven back by the violence of the 
barbarians ; others, that " he paraded his authority 
before the Christians and pagans of the island, and 
excited the opposition of both ; and after vain efforts 
to subdue them to the authority of his master on 
the Tiber, he was compelled to abandon his design 
and flee the country."* The enmity of a heathen 
chieftain may have been one cause of th<> failure. 
" But the Roman missionary might also have to 
thank hi- own uncompromising opposition to the 
pn;jtnlir s of tho-r Christian communities, who are 
* Ireland and the Irish. By Kirwan, N. T. Observer, 1865. 


mentioned as the sole object of this visit, and whose 
co-operation, undoubtedly, was necessary for the suc 
cess of any endeavours to Christianize their pagan 
neighbours."* These artless followers of Christ did 
not want such a bishop over them. They let him 
know it, and regarded it as sheer impertinence for 
him or his master to interfere with their simple 
rites and their independence. The tradition is, 
that he founded three small churches in Ireland, 
in one of which he placed the " relics of the 
apostles" that he had carried with him ! 

It is curious to find the name Patricius, or 
Patrick, given to him by some of the oldest Irish 
writers. He was thus called in Ireland for 
centuries. It is an important fact. It has caused 
very much of the confusion in the accounts of 
Saint Patrick. Events in the life of the one have 
been carried over into the life of the other, thus 
robbing Palladius to pay Patrick. This will 
furnish us with a key to certain legends soon to be 
noticed. Palladius did not go back in despair the 
way whence he came. There were other " Scots 
believing in Christ" to be visited. An ancient 
writer tells us that on leaving the people who had 
rejected him, " he was forced to go round the coast 
* Soames Latin Church in Anglo-Saxon Times, p. 53. 


of Ireland toward the north, until, driven by a 
great tempest, he reached the extreme part of 
3Iodltni< I It [M earns?], toward the south, where he 
founded the church of Fordoun, and Pledi is his 
name there." But Fordoun is not in the south of 
Scotland ; it is in the north-east, not far from Aber 
deen. Nor is it in the ancient land of the Scots, 
but in that of the Picts, where a Roman camp had 
been established. Did the Scots refuse to accept 
him as their bishop ? Did he then go among the 
Picts and found a church? Did he there lay aside 
his official dignities and work as a missionary? 
His name seems to have become somewhat popular 
at that place. The church and a neighbouring well 
were dedicated to him. He may have proved 
himself an enterprising man, devoting his energies 
to the good of the people, in temporal matters as well 
us spiritual. To this day in that town an annual 
inurket is called Palladie s fair, or " Pady fair, after 
Palladiu- himself."* This goes to show that he lived 
there for year-, rather than u lew months. To make 
the end of his mission suit the beginning of Saint 
Patrick -, it has been usual to fix his deatli at 
March 16, 432, not perhaps a year after his lir>t 
landing in Ireland. This looks like shortening his 

* Anc. Ch. Scot, in S|..,ttiswoode Miscellany, j. 


ministry for the express benefit of the " apostle of 
Ireland." The story that " he was crowned with 
martyrdom" may be only a smoother way of saying 
that foul work was made with the facts of his life. 
More sacredly is his life treated by the Scottish 
traditions. Longer space is given to it. There 
was no temptation to shorten his days and erase 
his deeds. He seems to have had some disciples, 
who became eminent missionaries. One of them 
was Servanus. The story* is that he was a native 
Scot, " lived according to the forms and rites of the 
primitive Church" until the coming of Palladium. 
The holy Servanus" was attracted to the new 
bishop;! he received instruction; he aided in 
teaching the people "the orthodox faith," and the 
right form of the Church ; he taught the Christian 
law to the clergy; and Palladius raised him to the 
dignity of a bishop. All this could not well have 
been done in a few weeks or months. The date is 
supposed to be 440. If Servanus founded the in 
stitution on the little isle of Loch Levin, as has 

* In the Breviary of Aberdeen. It is Romish authority, 
and favours the. Culdee theory. 

f " Scotland had never before seen a bishop, and was in a 
state of extreme barbarism." Milner, Ch. Hist. Cent. V. ch. xi. 
The want of such bishops was hardly the cause or the proof 
of the alleged barbarity. 


been claimed for ages, he would seem not to have 
departed very far from the Culdee -y-tem. He 
still had his inland cell. There urn^- upaCuldee 
establishment, which stoutly re-i-ted the advances 
of Koine until the twelfth ceiiturv. 

Another dix-iple- vw Tcrnanu-. a Boot hv birth, 
of noble blood, and l.apti/ed l,y Palladin-. "If 
it l.e tree that he l.apti/ed Ternanns when a child, 
M i: >;>i l ! did, and ordained him at last 
bishop of the Piets, he must have lived a good 
while; and indeed Polydore Virgil, in his history 
of Kn-land, l.rin-s him down to the reiirn of ( !on- 
stantine. . . . in the year 457."* Jf Ternanus 
was hapti/ed in adult age, and made a bishop 
within a \\-\\ month- after Palladius came, the one 
miiM have IM en a good and wise Christian for years, 
or the other a very poor and imprudent overseer 
of the Church. This ordination must have taken 
place at a rnnch later day than 432, when th<-,. 
who -lorily Saint Patrick hasten Saint Palladius 
into hi- grave. Tln-e aceonnts had us to l.elieve 
that Palladia lived and laboured MWft] JFCMI in 
ind, and died at I- ord..iin, \vlirrc hi- tomb ffftf 
ritl.-d at a lain- day, and hi- relic- pre-erved until 

Haiiy, I :,,!,;,. c,,i v TM-ll.- 
. h :t \. I 


the time of the Reformation.* True, these rre 
traditions ; they are found in records of the Middle 
Ages ; hut they are quite as well founded as the 
story about Saint s Patrick s commission from 
Home to succeed the deceased Palladius. There is 
more reason to believe that Palladius lived beyond 
the year 432 than that Patrick took up his com 
mission in the same year, and went as " the second 
bishop" to the Scots in Ireland. There is not the 
slightest evidence that the death of the one had 
any connection with the mission of the other. 

What if Palladius did not die in 432? What 
if Celestine did? The latter could not appoint 
Saint Patrick as the successor of the former. It 
is worthy of notice that Celestine is the only 
Roman bishop who is said to have given his sanc 
tion to the missionary. 

* Ussher, Brit. Eccl. Antiq. cap. xvi., Spott. Miss. 466. 



UK tares of fable arc not to be bound up 
IJ with the wheat of history. To set forth 
., t IK- true Saint Patrick from the fabulous, 
^G> we notice some of the mavellous talcs that 
have b.-en told of him. None of them were 
written duriii-.: hi- time: they were inventnl 
after he hal been several hundred years in his 
grave. Hi- Ilomi.-h biographers ol this day are 
<juite a.-hamed to repeat the most ridiculous of 
them. lint yet they nivo us the thread on which 
they arc M rung, and <"dl it history. By sifting a 
few of the legends we may the better know the real 
man from the myth ol the monk-. 

The -urn of the-.- It-end- i- a- follow.- : AfhT 
Patrick had re<- ived the vi-ion of an an^ -l calling 
him to Ireland, he went to ( irrmamis fur advicr. 
(irrmatin- had been a lawyer, a soldin- and a 
military commander, fluid of rough life, a noted 
hunter, and aceiM. ined to -lay wild bea-ts and 
their head- on a tree in the public .-(jiiar 


Auxerre. It was -a heathen custom. It displeased 
the bishop, Amator, who had the tree cut down, 
and for this was driven from the town by the com 
mander. But it was revealed to Amator that his 
enemy should one day become bishop of Auxerre. 
This was coming to pass, and Germanus was a lay 
man in the Church and a general in the army when 
Patrick visited him on the banks of the Yonne in 
the heart of France. There he studied four years ; 
some say thirty ! Fiacc says of Patrick, 

" He traversed the whole of Albion, 
He crossed the sea it was a happy voyage ; 
He took up his abode with Germanus, 
Far away to the south of America," 

Then he went to Tours, where he passed four 
years with Martin, the bishop, who is represented 
as his uncle on the mother s side. It was im 
portant to connect him with this great man in the 
Western Church, who did so much to advance the 
claims and the glory of Rome. There his head 
was shorn ; the tonsure marked him as one of the 
lower clergy. Then he grew wise in " church dis 
cipline," and learned to convert flesh into fish ! 

His guardian-angel does not lose sight of him. 
He commands the young Patrick to pass some time 
with "the people of God," that is, the barefoot 


hermit- in -ome retired corner of the world, which 
thev thoii-ht wa- <|iiite out of it. With them he 
li liters eii:hi year-, and becomes a quite passable 
monk. Thence he is sent by the angel to visit 
certain islander- in t lie " Tyrrhene Sea." He find- 
three other Patricks in a solitary cave, and a-k- 
leave to dwell with them. They an.-wer that he 
cannot unle-- he will draw water from a certain 
fountain which is guarded by a very savage wild 
beast. He agrees to this. He goes to the fountain. 
The ravenous beast sees him; give- rignfl f ^nat 
joy, and becomes u <|iiite tame and gentle." Patrick 
draws the water and return- with a ble.-.-iiiM;. The 
four Patrick- dwell tn^-eilier for nine years.* Per 
haps the Roman i-t- ln>t the true one there, and 
liave followed the wronu one in the various rambles 
which they record! The more sober version of 
this part of the -tory is that Patrick the r,ritoii 
studied for Some time in the celebrated niona-tcry 
at Lei-ins, to which he was >ent by LUJMI-, the 

bi-hoj. ,,| Troyes.f 

A-ain the aiiirrl aj>|ears, >ayinr, "Go to St. 

Senior, a bi.-lmp wlm i- in Mount llenimn, on the 
SOUtli -idc .! the oc.-an, and hi- city i- tortilird 

* Vita lYrtia, in ( lol 

i.atin ( Inn. li ; Caivw, Ki-rl. Hi.-t. Ir-l:iiul. 


with seven walls." He understands better than we 
do the angel s geography. He goes, for nothing is 
easier than for him to travel great distances. Here 
he is ordained a priest. Here come to him the 
voices of the children in Ireland, entreating him to 
hasten and teach them. " Go to Ireland" is the 
angel s command. 

" I cannot," he replied, " because bad men dwell 

" Go," is the word again. 

" I cannot unless I see the Lord." Patrick goes 
forth with nine men, and sees the Lord, who takes 
him to his right hand and declares to him, 

" Go thou to Ireland, and there preach the word 
of eternal life." 

" I ask of thee three petitions," answered 
Patrick "that the men of Ireland be rich in gold 
and silver ; that I may be their patron ; and that, 
after this life, I may sit on thy right hand in 
heaven." (Surely this is not our Patrick !) 

" Patrick, thou shalt have what thou hast asked ; 
and, moreover, whosoever shall commemorate thee 
by day or by night shall not perish for ever." 

He then goes to Ireland as a priest. But the 
people refuse to listen to him, for he has no com 
mission from Rome. It is not enough that the 


Lord ha- -cut him. He mu>t have a different au 
thority. Not Heaven, but Rome, must send him, 
IM -fore he can have any -necos ! Hr -u-pects the 
cause of his defeat, and pray- t the Lord: 
"Who did-t i:iiide my path through the ( lauls and 
Italy unto these islands, lead me, I beseech thee, 
to the holy B66 of the Roman ( hureh, that I niav 
thence reeeive ;inthurity to preaeh thy word with 
faithfulness and the people of Hiberni may 
by me be made Christians."* (What impiety! 
1- not the hand of a monk in all thi- . ) 

Patrick then Beta "in Hr Koine. On his way he 
again vi-it> (lermann^, and i- fni thur -ehouled into 
habit- ..f monkish devotion, The angel iirp-s him 
i" go back to Ireland: he starts, and Germanus 

-end- \\illl hilll Se^-etiu< the pre^bvler. Not \ e| i-s 

he a bishop, for I alladin- had been sent with that 
rank to the Iri-h. At Kmhoria lie i- met by the 
former Companions of Palladium and they tell him 
I alladiu- i- dead. He then turn- a-ide to "a man 
of wondn.ii* -aiietiiy. a ehief bi-hop. named A ma- 
tor (r Amatorexi, dwelling in a n"ij-hbouriiiir 
pl-iee," and by him Patriek i- consecrated a bMn.p. 
rpon tin- lie (jiiiekly takes ship, and n-aehe< the 
unfriendly -bore- ,,f the Kmerdd I-le. His 
* Probiis, quuttV by Tu.l.I. St. l :it.-i,-k, : , J4-326. 


labours are successful. But in this story there is 
nothing of his having been at Rome, nor of a com 
mission from "the pope. 77 The genius of Probus 
was clouded in regard to the Roman mission. Of 
that invention he seems not to have been aware. 

But we have not yet reached the climax of 
monkish fable. We have left out something, 
which \ve could not weave into the foregoing ac 
count. It is this: On one of his many visits to 
Germanus he is thus advised: "Go to the succes 
sor of St. Peter, namely Celestine, that he may or 
dain thee, for this office belongs to him." Patrick 
goes, but Celestine gives him no honour, because 
he has already sent Palladius to Ireland. One 
bishop to that country is all that he can afford. 
After this repulse Patrick goes with Segetius to an 
island in u the Tyrrhene Sea." [One version is 
that he took this island on his way to Rome.] 
There he comes to a house which seems to be new. 
There the master, who appears to be a very young 
man, points him to a very old woman, and says, 
"She is my daughter s granddaughter!" And 
much more quite as wonderful. Those who ap 
pear youngest are the oldest on that blessed isle. 
They had been in the habit of showing hospitality 
to every traveller passing that way. One night a 


pilgrim had oorae with a staff in his hand, and 
they had a precious relic- which had the power of 
preserving those who sacredly kept it in all the 
freshness of youth. He was lodged with all kind 
ness. In the morning he told them that he was 
the Lord Jesus, and leaving the staff with them, 
said, " Keep it safely. After a long time a certain 
pilgrim will come named Patrick;* give it to 
him." Then Patrick refused to take the staff, un 
less he should receive it from the Lord himself. 
Three days afterward he went with these remark- 
iiMe people to Mount Hermon in the neighbour 
hood, and there it wa< ^Iven to him to qualify him 
for the ronveision of Ireland. He went again to 
Home [it \va> the lirsi time, according to some], 
and w:i- received with favour, for Celestine had 
MOW heard of the death of Palladius. He was 
then ordained u bisliop, t^iven the name of Patrick, 
and -.Mit on the irivMt mi ion, with a fair supply 
of relie^, which, as some will have it, he filched 
from the pope. Three choirs th.-n smir praises 

* The author of this wretched story forgot to n-pn-^-nt thii 
name as aft. -rwunl uivru to him hy Pope Celestine," when In- 
received hi< n,riiini.~ion. Tin- st.-itl 1 ti-ur.-^ l.-irK-Iy in the 
Irk. Th.- |.r.-t.-n.l,-.| n-lir was long 
k.-jit. IMII piihlifly hiinn-il .-it th- }{. -f ..nnntion. 


one in heaven ; another in Rome, and a third in 
the wood of Erin, where the children were still 
calling for " the saint 7 to come and bless them.* 
What their ages were is not told, but Patrick s is 
set down at sixty ! He had passed nearly forty 
years in study and in the chase after the true 
Church ! Verily some of our modern brethren 
may take courage ; they are not likely to have a 
rougher time than had this mythical Saint Patrick 
in getting to Rome. 

Such are the stories. Modern Romanists tone 
down the absurdities, and out of these trifling 
legends weave the accounts of Patrick s studies on 
the Continent and his commission from the pope. 
What truth is there in them ? None whatever, we 
believe, so far as Saint Patrick is concerned. The 
greater part are incredible ; the rest untrue. We 
have passed over some of the contradictions and 
absurdities. We may sift out a few items of ap 
parent fact, but they seem to belong to the life of 
Palladius. He is the Patrick who was connected 
with Germanus. He may have been a disciple 
of Martin of Tours, and studied at Lerins. He 
may have been ordained by Amatorex. He may 
have wandered about the Mediterranean islands. 
* Vita Septima, in Colgan ; Joceline s St. Patrick. 


He seems to have been at Emboria, wherever that 
was, for it is mentioned in connection with his 
name. He appears t< have been urged by Ger- 
iiianus to go to Ireland, and it was he who went 
as a bishop, with the seal of Celestine on his com 
mission. One account is that Saint Patrick was 
sent with (Jermanus into Britain, in 429, to sup 
press the Pelagian heresy; this is far more likely 
to have been true of Palladius, for he was zealous 
on that subject. The story of Patrick s repulse by 
the Irish is clearly borrowed from Palladius. 
shall find the one represented as following 
in the foot-tep> of the other, landing on the same 
coast and driven away by the same Hy Garchon. 

There is but <ne point where a fact seems to crop 
out through the ma of fables. It is where Saint 
Patriek is sent to Ireland in his younger days, 
and, as a priest or presbyter, begins his work 
without having been at Rome, and without any 
sort of commission from her bishop. It was not 
necessary to have a permi-ion from that quarter. 
Good men and ehun-he.-. and synods had the right 
to send miionaries wherever they chose, without 
a word from "the holy lather. 1 Kven lie did not 
claim that all success depended upon him. He WM 
not yet a full-blown pope. With all his faults, 


Celestine was too good a bishop to assume such 
high powers. u A ray of truth has here broken 
out through clouds of fable, and no greater proof 
can be desired that the Roman mission was a 
modern addition to the facts of history." * 

And yet it is assumed that St. Patrick was sent 
forth from Rome, as her bishop, her legate, her 
apostolic nuncio ! Hear Father Brenan : " Upon 
the death of Palladius, Patrick received the regular 
missionary powers from the sole divinely estab 
lished source of spiritual jurisdiction on earth, the 
head of the Church, at that time also Pope Celes 
tine ;" and thus other Romish writers assert in 
shorter words, from Fiacc s Scholiast down to Mon- 
talembert. It is made the great point with them. 
It lies at the basis of all the wonders done by " the 
apostle of Ireland." Without it he is nothing in 
their eyes. It has become deeply rooted in the 
hearts of thousands of Irishmen. It has made 
him their patron saint; they swear by his name, 
pray to him, adore him, and regard him as the 
guardian of the whole Irish race wherever they 
may roam in other lands. 

Moreover, this Roman mission is made the 
central point in all the chronology of his life. All 
*Todd sSt. Patrick, p. 327. 


other dates are conformed to it. If he was com 
missioned by (Vie- tine as the successor of Pal- 
ladius, it must have been in 432, for this Eoman 
bishop died early in that year. If he was then 
sixty years of age, he was born in 372. But what 
of the other dates ? If he was thirty when he 
went to German us, he must have found a poor 
teacher of theology, for this man was a military 
officer at that time, if not a heathen sportsman; he 
was not a bishop earlier than 418. Did Patrick 
study with him thirty years? When, then, did he 
study with Martin of Tours, who died about 4<>L . 
The green. -i urave of the most learned man would 
not be a lit place to study "church discipline." 
IIi-<le:ith i- iixel about the year 494, giving him 
the full age of one hundred and twenty-two years. 
These are a few of the beauties of monkish arith- 
metie. To fix hi- birth at 387 does not clear up 
the difficulties. These dry dates show a plentiful 
watering of tin- facts in the life <>f the missionarv. 
\Va-Saint Pan-irk evoratRome? Perhap- he 
was, but there i> no good evidence of it. Vet what 
if ho were? Protestants now visit that city, and 
inoM of them ennie away with their faith unim 
paired ; Bomighi he. Ami the I ;.. me of the fifth 
century was not what it heeame in the eighth; its 


moon was only in the first quarter of decline and 
gently waning into the crescent. Her power was 
not the growth of one age ; it was the gradual 
result of centuries of ambition. Even had Patrick 
studied there (as some legends run), and been there 
ordained, he might still have held none of Rome s 
peculiar views. Indeed, we might grant that he 
was sent forth, from that great centre of the empire, 
to labour in Ireland, and yet not admit Rome to 
be the mother of all the ancient churches nor the 
head of Christendom. The question would not be 
so very important if the Papists had not laid such 
stress upon it. " The fact that missionaries were 
sent out with the sanction of Rome no more proves 
the modern papal claim to universal supremacy, 
than the fact of a bishop being now sent into the 
interior of Africa, with the sanction of Canterbury, 
would prove the universal supremacy of the Primate 
of England." * 

Was Saint Patrick sent to Ireland with a com 
mission from Celestine? The question is im 
portant. Its answer will help to solve many diffi 
culties. We state some of our reasons for rejecting 
the story of the Roman mission : 

1. It is based on the legends of which we have 
*Todd s St. Patrick, p. 333, note. 


given a speeimen ; rather were these fables framed 
to support it. They are of comparatively late 
origin. J li.-v were put forth at a time when some 
show of foundation wa.- needed fur the pope s 
power in 1 ivland. 

2. It is not mentioned by the older writers. 
Tin- is admitted by the most candid Roman 
( atliolic hi.-torians, who base it only on tradi 
tion. 1 Could an appointment of so great mo 
ment have been unknown to the chroniclers of 
that age ? If known, would they have passed 
it over in silence? Yet, -trance to relate, cen 
turies seem to have rolled away before the im 
portant rommi-sion with which Saint Patrick is 
said to have been honoured by Saint ( destine was 
mentioned by any British or foreign writer.f 
Not ii word i> said about it by Sechnall, his sup- 
jM-.-d nephew, hi- disciple and eulogist. He wrote 
a poem in praise of the great man, but thrust upon 
him no glory derived from an education on the Con 
tinent or a sanction from Koine. He describe-, 
him as "constant in the tear of <i>d, immovable 
in faith, one upon whom as a second Peter the 
Church is built, and one who obtained from God 

* Lanigan, Colgan, Carew. 

Ireland, p. 74. 


his apostleship. The Lord chose him to teach 
barbarous nations, and to fish with the nets of 
doctrine." Fiacc s Hymn represents him as edu 
cated on the Continent, but says nothing of the 
Roman mission. If it were a fact, they certainly 
would not have ignored such an honour, unless 
they were too proud of the independence of the 
Irish Church.* 

Prosper of Aquitaine took into his special care 
the praises of Celestine, for he was the bishop s 
friend and counsellor. He advised the sending of 
Palladius to "the Scots believing in Christ." Pal- 
ladius went, stayed a few weeks, raised three 
chapels, and ran away ; yet for this brief and ig 
noble effort Celestine is named with high honour. 
But Patrick went to Ireland, laboured there 
twenty-three years before Prosper finished his 
chronicle, and was blessed with the most signal 
success. Was not this to the honour of Celestine, 
who did not live to hear of it? Was he not the 
spiritual father of the Irish Church ? Yet Prosper 
never mentions Patrick. He neither tells us that 
he was at Rome nor that he was sent out from 
Rome. Why not? It must have been for the 

* Todd s St. Patrick, p. 312. This silence occurs in five of 
the seven lives in Colgan s Trias Thanmaturga. 


reason that Celestine had no part in the glorious 
work of redeeming the sons of Erin to the Lord. 
Nor had Home. Patrick had gone forth from 
another quarter, and Prosper did not care to relate 
the deeds of an independent missionary. 

liede maintain- the like silence. He enters 
Patrick in his martyrology as a presbyter, which is 
some proof of his existence. He mentions Ninian, 
and Palladius, and Columba as eminent mission 
aries ; why not Patrick? He either knew noth 
ing of the mission to Ireland, or he cared not to 
tell what he knew. He could hardly have been 
ignorant. Was it because he could not hone-tly 
say that Patrick was in Rome, and could not in 
any \\.iv make him -npport the Roman pretensions 
of the eighth century ? Bede had a strong love for 
the Roman party. The deeds of its bishops and 
poprs he gloried in telling. But if Patrick was 
only a presbyter, an independent missionary, an 
a.-soriate of the < uldrrs, a humble man who had 
devoted him-df to the Iri.-h mi ion by the com 
mand of rin-M, he was not thought worthy of 

3. Patrick i- evidently OOofbondtd with Palla 
dia-. Tin- we have >lnwn as a condii-ion drawn 

*Soame, Lat. Ch. p. X): M- I.;iu. hlan, l-imly ( h. Scot. p. 97. 


from sifting the legends. "We infer," says Dr. 
Todd, " that the whole story of Patrick s connec 
tion with St. Germain and mission from Celestine 
should be regarded as a fragment of the lost 
history of Palladius, transferred to the second and 
more celebrated Patrick, by those who undertook 
to interpolate the authentic records of his life. 
The object of these interpolates was evidently to 
exalt their hero. They could not rest satisfied 
with the simple and humble position in which his 
own writings, his confession and his letter to Coro- 
ticus had placed him. They could not concede to 
Palladius the honour of a direct mission from 
Rome, without claiming for Patrick a similar 
honour. They could not be content that their own 
Patrick should be regarded as an unlearned, a rude 
uneducated man, even though he has so described 
himself. The biography of Palladius, olio nomine 
PatriciuSj supplied them with the means of effect 
ing their object, and gave to the interpolated story 
the appearance of ancient support." Thus we may 
account for what is related of Patrick s education 
on the Continent, his monastic tonsure, his ordina 
tion by Amator, his consecration by Celestine, his 
Roman mission and his first failure in Ireland. 
They belong to the first Patrick. " Xo ancient or 


trustworthy authority has countenanced these 
BMbta in reference to the second Patrick."* 

Tli is patchwork makes a chaos of chronology, 
a> il the elates were thrown into a box, shaken up, 
and drawn out by one wli an- so bandaged 

that lie cannot M6 tin- iacts of history. We shall 
present, in the next chapter, a chronology that will 
better accord with the facts of Saint Patrick s life; 
but it will set at naught all theories of the Romi.-h 
mi ion. 

4. The reception and success of Saint Patrick 
argue against the Roman mission. If we und r 
stand that the Irish people hated civil Rome, and 
were suspi<-i.u- of rvlr>iastical Koine, all will be 
clear. Palladiu- was rejected because he came to 
place a new y.kc upon the Irish Christians, and 
be their chief bi.-lmp, teaching them new usages 
and ruling in a new way.f Patrick went with no 
Roman views or corn ink-ion, no aim to lord it 
over God s heritage, no design but to jna<h 
Christ and BttVG >inm -rs ; and he succeeded. He 
bore the true cross, and not the crosier. View 
him as a Romish prelate, and there is confusion; 
regard him as an earnest Christian missionary, 

* Soniin-s I .at. < h. p. 50. 

f ToddV St. Pairirk. pp. Ml, :;:;L ( . ,-/ pauim. 


going forth from North Britain, and all is clear. 
Cut him loose from the meshes of Rome, and the 
burden of continental legends rolls away. He 
then stands forth a devoted minister of Christ, 
with a tongue that can gain the Irish ear and a 
soul that can win the Irish heart. 

5. Saint Patrick claimed to have gone to Ireland 
of his own accord. None compelled him. He 
went " bound in the spirit/ 7 and with no call but 
that of the Lord. To show this fact he refers to 
his dreams. He had the sanction of his God and 
of his own conscience ; he needed none from Rome. 

6. There are intimations that he was ordained 
in Britain for the work. Certain "respectable 
clergymen" at first opposed his consecration, on 
acccount of an old fault, committed thirty years 
before in his youth. We have seen that some 
of the legends represent him as ordained in Gaul, 
without any connection with Rome. Such accounts 
would hardly be mere inventions of the monks. 

7. There is not one word in his own writings 
about an education on the Continent, or a Roman 
mission, or a friendship with Martin of Tours, 
Germanus or Celestine. Why not? He was 
writing in his old age, when Rome was rising 
toward the papacy, and receiving more and more 


honour on the Continent. He had I een charged 
with pre.-umption in liav ing undertaken such a work 
a- the conversion of the Iri-h, rude and unlearned 
as he was, and on his <>\vn authority. What a 
chance now for him to IM..-IM a little of his former 
advantages, and tell oi his education abroad and 
of his eummi ion from Rome! This would have 
M-ttled the <|iie.Mion of his right to preach with 
th -r who favoured the Roman pretensions. But 
In - iid nothing <>f the kind. We infer, then, that 
lie had never held any connection with Rome, or 
t lat the people had prejudices in that direction 
which he did not \\i-h to rouse. They may have 
stood linnlv on the ground of their independence. 
They may have eared little lor Roman education, 
and less 11 .r li<>man commissions. And that after 
Saint Patrick had been long with them! On such 
matter, prol.ahlv. he and they were agreed. 

Kven if the < onfe inn ! :l fir^ ry, this argu 
ment will hold ^..nd. For its author, assuming 
the n;ini, Pati-ieU, evidently wn.t<- with n 

n t. | np up the theory of a limnan mi inn 
or a Continental education. lie knew not their 
value, or lie \\as m>t making up a hi-lorv of events 
that never oe.-niTed. Ilrsn fully threw himself 
hack into Saint Patri -k - time- and 


that he told only the truth. But here is a proof 
that the Confession is not a forgery. It is not 
stuffed with lying legends. Its very face proclaims 
that it was written by a man of truth, and such a 
man would not pen a " pious fraud." It served as 
a basis for the later manufacturers; they used the 
good material as they pleased. It was gold for 
their alloys. But they cared not to multiply copies 
of it, and few now remain in the original form. 
It was cast into the shade, for it could not serve 
the purposes of the Roman Church.* 

8. We shall find that the Irish Church was not 
conformed to the Roman during several centuries 
after Saint Patrick s death. " If Patrick came to 
Ireland as a deputy from Rome, it might naturally 
be expected that in the Irish Church a certain sense 
of dependence would always have been preserved 
toward the mother Church of Rome. But we find, 
on the contrary, in the Irish Church afterward, a 
spirit of church freedom similar to that shown by 
the ancient British Church, which struggled against 
the yoke of Roman ordinances. . . . This goes 
to prove that the origin of this Church was inde 
pendent of Rome." f To this we shall again recur 

* Todd s St. Patrick, p. 387. 
f Neander, Ch. Hist., p. 123. 

/ A / I A TRICK. 95 

when we consider whether Saint Patrick held any 
oilieial connection with Rome, in his oversight of 
the Church to which lie <ravc his toils. Some pre- 
lat i>ts think that he eoniniitted errors in not forming 
dioceses, and placing " bishops" over them. His 
bishops were pa.-tor>, < a. h having charge of a par 
ticular church. >% I he very errors into which he 
fell" are eited as evidence that he did not hold his 
appointment i roin Koine.* 

* The Church of St. Patrick, by Rev. W. G. Todd, London, 
1844, p. 30. 



^FTER clearing away the rank growth of 
/*, legends from the path of Saint Patrick, we 
may now follow the truck of his life. It is 
still like an old Indian trail through the 
dark woods ; many of the tree* once " blazed" 
have fallen, and the footprints have become dim. 
But here is an ancient landmark, there an outlying 
fact, and with cautious step we undertake to follow 
him from the home of his parents 0:1 the Clyde. 
There we left him, lately returned from his cap 

It is expressly stated in the Irish version of 
Nermius* that Patrick was a slave with Milchu 
when Palladius was sent to Ireland. If this be 
true, he was a slave in the year 431. If that was 
the first year of his bondage, he was then sixteen ; 
if the last, he was about twenty-two, for these are 
admitted to be the dates of his capture and his 

*Nennius, abbot of Bangor, wrote about A.D. 688. Cave, 
Scrip. Hint. Lit. Sac. vii. 62 ); TodtTs St. Patrick, p. 394. 

I i /.vy rATRlCK. 97 

release. This would give the year 409-415 as the 
period of his birth. As the Romanists arc cap -r 
to link him with Palladius, we might assume that 
both of them left Ireland the same year. We see 
no way of bringing them together unless we sup 
pose that the -hip which bore the bi-lmp northward 
was the very MIMIC that took up the fugitive young 
man of t wenty-two. Both are said to have had 
rough sailing, and a wreck on the Scottish coast 
might have separated them for ever. Nor can we 
imagine how Celestine heard of Patrick, or sent 
him to Ireland, unless the bishop forwarded by 
post a report of tin /eal shown by the young Briton 
on shipboard. Then comes the commission. 
Patrick gets it after one of his dreams, and with 
all speed departs to the children calling to him 
liom the dark forests of Erin. We submit this 
theory as quite equal to any other which puts into 
the hand- of Patrick a parchment sealed by the 
dyinji ( Vle-tine. 

\\ - take the d;t;c of Nennius as nothing more 
thai) a dose goess ai the truth. lie had no idea 
of the Roman mi ion. Let us take other data. 
1-Yoiu some of the additions to the Confession we 
learn that Patrick had eommiited a limit, we know 
not what, when fifteen year- <,f ap . Thirty years 


afterward he was about to be fully ordained to the 
work of the ministry. His friends opposed his 
going. One of them, to whom he had confessed 
the old forgiven fault, brought it forward as an ob 
jection. He was overruled. This would make 
Patrick forty-five years of age at his ordination. 

Now if we can find the date of this event, we 
may clear up various difficulties. Let us assume 
that he sought ordination to qualify him more 
fully for the work in Ireland. When did he go 
thither? A curious Irish tract says that the battle 
of Ocha happened exactly forty-three years after 
the coming of Patrick to Ireland. In this fray 
Oilioll Molt was slain. The annals of Ulster fix 
it at 482-483. This would give 440 as about the 
date of Patrick s mission. 

By comparing Tirechan with Keating we have 
these dates : King Laogaire died in 474. He had 
reigned after the coming of Patrick thirty-two 
years. This gives the year 442 as the date of the 

An Irish bard and historian of the eleventh cen 
tury* says that Pope Gregory died one hundred and 
sixty-two years after Patrick s coming. Gregory 

* Gilla Csemhain, quoted more fully in Todd s St. Patrick, p. 


died in (>04. Tin- uives 442 as the year of the 
mis-i.m. Dr. Todd fiirnMie- other dates, all drawn 
from Sources independent of each oilier, and vary 
ing little Iroiii those which we have quoted from 
his pane-. Let the above suffice; we are not writ 
ing an arithmetic. We have good grounds for a~- 
suming that about 442 was the date of his mission 
to Ireland, that he was then forty-five years of 
age, and that 397 was the year of his birth. 

Here then are twenty-three years which he had 
at hi- disposal after his return from captivity a 
vei-v considerable number { or ,-tndy and lor the 
trial of hi- o-ilts as a preacher. But we may sup 
pose the time well employed. We are not driven 
to hide him in a mona-terv. There are a few traces 
of active labour- ; they are mere traditions, but 
they accord with the circumstances of hi- life, and 
help to fill up the picture of his times. 

When- did this young Briton study? Not 
surely at Tours with Saint Martin, for, if our 
dates be correct, the one was an infant when tin- 
Other was lying in his grave. It may have been 
at some Culdee cell or college, where the Bible 
was the chief classic, and students were hardly 
trained to write Latin letters with the elegance of 
Cicero. He never became a scholar. His know- 


ledge of Latin was limited. In later years he 
spoke of himself as a man who "was afraid to 
write in the language of the civilized world, be 
cause he had not read like others, who had been 
devoted to sacred learning from their infancy, and 
his speech had been changed to another tongue." 
He had preached and prayed in the language of 
the Irish people. Very modestly he acknowledged 
himself to be " rustic, unlearned," brought up in 
the country as an uneducated man. But he seems 
to have been an Apollos mighty in the Scriptures, 
and able to move his illiterate hearers by the 
power of his eloquence. We infer therefore that 
his education was scriptural rather than classical. 
It was like that of Niniaii, who had found his 
views of Bible truth quite different from those 
taught at Rome. 

"Were there any ties between Patrick and Ger- 
manus of Auxerre? It is not easy to completely 
sever their names. They seem to have clasped 
hands, and that on British soil. This view is 
favoured by traditions not in the interest of the 
Romish monks. It is worthy of notice that while 
the one was thinking of going to Ireland as a mis 
sionary, the other was coming to Britain as the 
champion of the true faith. The Pelagians were 


bu-y in teaching the Britons that sin had not 
ivn<lnv<l man a helple-s sinner, and that by his 
good works lie iniijit save liinisclf. There were 
many ( hri-tians who would not accept tin-t 
errors, and yet could not ably defend the truth. 
They a-ked the churches of Gaul to send them 
help. At a synod held in 429 Germanus \va.^ 
chosen to vi-it Britain. The armour of a spiritual 
warrior was upon him, but perhaps he had learned 
from the ureat Augustine that good word, " Slay 
the errors, but love the erring. With him went 
Lupus, afterward the bishop of Troyes, who \\.i- 
called " the prince of (Jallicau prelates, the rule of 
manner-, the pillar of virtue, the friend of Clod, 
the intercessor l >r men with Heaven." There is 
no good ancient evidence that they took a commi-- 
sion from "Pope Celestine," yet he may have 
volunteered to -rant them his blessing. They 
CTOSSed the < hanm-l, ;md probably went up through 
Cornwall, visited (Ila-tmibury, and entered the 
valley- of Wale-, preaching aloit-- the road- and 
in the fields. They seemed to carry evcrvt hin-j 
before them. Tin- humble ( hri-tian- \\.iv de- 
liL r hted ; the hau _ r htv errori-t-, -o fond of <j\\ 
-trench to the pride of man, be-an to make their 



A great debate was to come off at Verulam. 
Bede describes the scene in his lively style. He 
says that the champions of heresy came in gorgeous 
robes, while those of the truth appeared plainly 
dressed and diffident. " An immense multitude 
was assembled, with their wives and children. On 
the one side was divine faith ; on the other, human 
presumption. On the one side, piety ; on the other, 
pride. On the one side, Pelagius [by his repre 
sentatives] ; on the other, Christ. . . . Germanus 
and Lupus permitted their adversaries to speak 
first, who occupied a long time and filled the ear 
with empty sounds. Then the venerable prelates 
poured forth the torrent of their apostolic and evan 
gelical eloquence. Their speeches were filled with 
Scripture sentences. . . . The Pelagian party, not 
being able to answer, confessed their errors. The 
people, who were judges, could scarcely be re 
strained from acts of violence, but signified their 
judgment by their acclamations." * 

Germanus remained for some time in Britain. 
Among the wonders related of him is his part in a 
battle. The Scots and Picts were coming down 
upon the Britons. The fray bade fair to be fierce. 
Germanus is said to have baptized many of the 
*Bede, Eccl. Hist. libi. cap. 17. 


British soldier-, and then acted quite as a general, 
as he well knew how to do. He probably knew 
the value of tremendous shouting. The fight 
began; he shouted lidllclujah three times; the 
word ran along the line; the whole army took it 
up, and the enemy took fr i 11 h t , and retreated in the 
greatest disorder." The -p..i in Wale- when- this 
affair is -nppo-ed to have occurred is called the 
Field of Garmon, the \Vel.-h name of Germanu.-. 
Several Welsh churches . bear his name. Such 
events were likely to draw the attention oi yonn^ 

To find Patrick in Wales need not surpri-e n-. 
Between tin people of the two countries there were 
ties of lan-naur, and, probably, of religion. Thither 
the Highlanders were quite likely to drive many 
familie- from the land- of the Clyde. One tradi 
tion i-, that Patrick had a n-tn-at and a cell in the 
Yalli- Ko-ina. which -ome have claimed as hi- 
birth-place. It i- -aid, al-n, that he preached in 
,id Cornwall, with whose ( Vh ic -p. .eh he 
mi-lit have Ix-cn familiar. 1 f t hi- were true, lie 
\vi.uld -eareely fail |,, -JM-IK! -oine time at (ilaston- 
l.ury, which ha- been called the cradl-- of llriti.-h 
( hri-tianity, k4 the tir.-t in onnd of (iod, the 
* I;. MM. lil, i ,-.-,,,. 20. 


ground of the saints in England ; the rise and 
fountain of all religion in England." It was called 
the holy isle of Avalon. Its church claimed 
descent from the churches of Asia Minor. One 
tradition is, that Patrick studied there for thirty 
years ; another, that he died there and was buried. 
His name was loved in these regions, and given to 
several churches. In later days the Irish Chris 
tians looked with reverence toward Glastonbury, 
and thither made their pilgrimages. It is possible 
that Germanus met Patrick at some of these points 
before returning to Gaul. They may have eaten 
together some of the famous apples of Avalon.* 

William of Malinsbury says : "When Germanus 
was meditating a return into his native country, he 
formed an intimate acquaintance with Patrick, 
whom he sent after some years to the Irish as a 
preacher, at the bidding of Celestine." The latter 
part of this sentence we do not believe ; the " some 
years" reveal the mistake. Celestine had but a 
few months to live. But the " intimate acquain 
tance" was very possible. Patrick may have 
learned much from the man of heroic zeal, who 
caused the churches to be thronged, and preached 
in the open fields, along the highways, and wher- 
* Camden, Britannia, Col. 63. 


ever he could make war against the heresies of 
Pelagius. They may have talked together of 
Ireland, whose rulers were deluded by the bards 
and priests of Druid ism. 

There are traces of other labours. "This Si. 
Patrick did not neglect his native country of 
North Britain, but was very useful and assistant 
to the other instruments of that good work, in 
bringing tin- people into and confirming them more 
and more in the Christian faith."* Such is the 
statement of a writer in the early part of the 
eighteenth century, when referring to en-tain tradi 
tions of Scotland, where the name of Patrick some 
times appears in towns and churches. 

There is no good proof that Patrick ever set foot 
out of the British Isles, and yet he may have 
crossed the Channel and laboured in Armorica. 
One story is, that he there passed three or four 
years as a pastor, under the direction of ( J< nnanus.f 
A Celtic Briton would not have been an <>nt in- 
stranger in that country of Celts, who had such a 
readiness to accept the gospel. It also has 
treasured his name and claimed hi- birth. He 
may have helped to start a movement which be- 

\n. < i, Scot in S|K,ttU\v(x,(l. Mixvllany. 
t Lai : i :i. 


came wonderful after his departure, and continued 
for almost a century. The Saxons were devouring 
Britain and driving away her Christian people. 
"To escape from their bloody yoke, an army of 
British monks, guiding an entire tribe of men and 
women, freemen and slaves, embarked in vessels 
not made of wood, but of skins sewn together, sing 
ing, or rather howling, under their full sails, the 
lamentations of the Psalmist, and came to seek an 
asylum in Armorica. . . . This emigration lasted 
more than a century, and threw a new but equally 
Celtic population into that part of Gaul which 
Roman taxation and barbarian invasion had in 
jured least, and where the ancient Celtic worship 
had retained most vitality. With the exception 
of three or four episcopal cities, almost all the 
Armorican peninsula was still pagan in the sixth 
century. All the symbols and rites, the myths 
and arcanas of paganism seemed to be concentrated 
in that wild and misty country." (Yet some 
writers picture it as the blessed Eden that, in 372, 
gave Saint Patrick to the world.) The British 
missionaries " came to ask shelter of their breth 
ren, issued from the same race and speaking the 
same language. They undertook to pay for the 
hospitality they received by the gift of a true 


faith, and they succeeded. They gave their name 
and wor.-hip to their new country. . . . Fifty 
years after their appearance the Gospel reigned in 
peniiiHiIa."* If Patrick did not aid in it, he 
nniM have known of the movement when toiling 
among another Celtic people. 

A ray of truth may have gleamed upon Probus 
when lie >aid that Patrick began his work in 
Ireland as a young man and " a priest." In one 
of the snppo-cd addition* t<> the Confession he is 
made to say to certain Irish Christians, "You 
know, and God knoweth, how I walked among 
you from my youth.* This may mean that he 
ULNIM \\\< mini>try among them before he was 
ordained to the office of "a bishop," whatever that 
was. He may have laboured in the southern part 
of the inland, where the little bands of Christians 
were most numerous. Wars among the tribes 
may have hindered him from great efforts which 
the chroniclen would notice. Some of them, how- 

,f the- WM. ii. ,,. 2t>0, et teg.; also 
Gilda> .ui.1 < m.ili-ii. Tin- latter says "From that time tin- 
Armuriri, 1,,-in^ .-uUm-d hy little and littlt-, tin- name of 
r.iitains grew so great in thin new country that tlu- whole 
body ot inlialiitaiit- l>-^an !< fall umlrr it, and tht- tract to be 
called Britanniea America." Alo lyisraeli s Amenities of 
J.itrratnrr, ii. 2. 


ever, dated his arrival about the year 436. Often 
he may have crossed and recrossed the Irish 
Channel. He may have tasted the dangers of 
labouring in such a country. Wishing to have 
full power to organize churches and ordain 
ministers, he may have applied for ordination in 
Britain. Then came the opposition of his rela 
tives and friends. 

" Why does this man rush into danger among 
the heathen, who know not the Lord ?" they said 
one to another. " That fault in his youth I" 
whispered a confidant. But he persevered. Noth 
ing could turn him aside not their offers of 
wealth, not their tears. He was ready to leave all 
and follow Christ. " Many gifts were offered me 
with tears, if I would remain/ he tells us. " I 
was forced to offend my relations and many of my 
well-wishers. But with God s guidance I did not 
yield to them at all, not by my own power, for it 
was God who triumphed in me. He did not 
hinder me from my labour, which I had dedicated 
to my Lord Christ. I felt no small power from 
him, and my faith was proved before God and 
men. Wherefore I boldly say that my conscience 
reproves me not here nor hereafter." 

And yet so vigorous a man may have felt young 


at forty-five, or he would so appear to himself when 
over ninety, and then looking back to the time 
when lie fully entered upon his mission. In the prime 
of life he set foot on the shores of Erin as a mis 
sionary. That he went first to the tribes of 
Lei nster, landed at Inbher Dea, on the Wicklow 
coast, made a tew converts, roused the wrath of the 
II v (iarchon, yielded tin; ground, took ship again, 
and -ailed northward, is extremely doubtful. It 
looks too much like a story borrowed from the. ad 
ventures of Palladius. "It is not reasonable to 
suppose that both missionaries should have done 
\aetly the same things ; that both should land at 
the Mime place, both be, driven off by the same 
ehiettain, and both turn to the north of the island; 
with thi- difl erenee only, that Palladius is driven 
ia< -cording to some accounts) by a storm round the 
iioi i IK in ,ast of Scotland to the region of tin 
Piet-, and Patrick landed safely in Dalaradia, 
when- hi- mini-try is at once successful. Patrick, 
we may rcadilv believe, went at once to I 1-ter, to 
vi-it the j.laee with which he was formerly 
acquainted, and where he expected to bt: well 
ived." ; T he oldest authorities have nothing 
of the Wick low ,-tory. 

*Todd s St. Patrick, p. 339, sliyhtiy wndemed. 



N Irish herdsman is said to have kept the 
flocks of his master Dichu near the lower 
end of the Strangford Lough. One day he 
strolled down toward the shore, and saw a 
boat put into a little cove, as if there was some 
secret business on hand. Out of it stepped a small 
party of men, who had been wearied in toiling 
with the waves. Carefully stowing away their 
luggage, they hid their boat among the rushes, and 
then set forth to explore the country. A man of 
about forty-five years appeared to be the chief of 
the party. 

" Robbers," thought the herdsman. " Pirates 
from the land of the Picts !" They seemed to be 
gazing over the neighborhood, as if -spying out the 
land, and about to choose some house to plunder 
or fall upon some unguarded flock. They must 
have been hungry enough, if they had been for three 
days upon a barren isle, since called Inis Patrick, 
just off the Dublin coast. One story is, that they 



had sought t> make them a home on its sands, 
where no man dwelt, and famine threatened their 
lives. Not even a fish would enter their nets, and 
the water-fowl took wing. The choice of such an 
island would indicate that they were Culdees, seek 
ing tin- -pot for a cell. "The practice of taking 
pOBeeasiot) of -ecluded inlands continued to charac- 
tcri/c the ( nldee -y-tem, and was carried by the 
missionari.-, -rut forth from time to time, whither- 
BT they went."* But the herdsman knew not 
the habit- of ( uldee-, and he ran as fast as his feet 
could take him from the invader.-. kl Pirate-" was 
the burden of every l.reath. 

Now his ma-tcr, Dichn, had a choice home, and 
he happened to be in at the time. He wa- a ^n-at 
man in tho-r part-, having the blood of an ancient 
kin_ r in hi- veins, and a goodly array of clan-mei: 
on hi- e-tate-. Hi~ i-iche- would allbnl iine spoils 
for a tronp ..f marauders. The report of hi- ah 
breathle lienUmaii roused his fear.-, his wrath 
and his murage. He .-ounded the alarm. The 
clan-men gathered at his rail. He took his sword 
and they their pike-. All marched ii.rth eager for 
the fray. They divw nearer to the invad. 

The chiefiain wa.- -truck tir-t, not with a >k holv 

MrL:im-hlaii, |-I:irly Scut. Ch. p. 182. 

112 SA I.\T PA THICK. 

staff," but with the noble bearing and frank, 
friendly countenance of the leader of the strange 
party. He had not seen a more winning face for 
many a day. The foot of heaven s messenger 
seems never before to have pressed his soil. He 
knew not Scripture enough to ask, " Comest thou 
peaceably ?" It would not have cleared up the 
mystery for the leader to say, " I am Patrick, a 
missionary. In the name of the living God I come 
to declare to you the glad tidings of salvation. 
My greeting is the angel s song, Peace on earth, 
good-will to men. 7 " For this chieftain was a 
heathen. He had heard of no Druid s prophecy,* 
beginning thus : 

" He comes, he comes with shaven crown, 
From off the storm-tossed sea." 

The sword was dropped. The warrior s face 
grew mild. The descendant of kings talked with 
the man of God. A finger pointed to the house, 
and a welcome was given to Patrick and his com 
panions. It was not " a multitude of holy bishops, 
presbyters, deacons, exorcists, readers, door-keepers, 
and students," as some would have us believe. As 
for "some Gauls" and certain priests, who had 

* The legend of such a prophecy by a pagan Druid was the 
manufacture of a papal monk long after the event. 

9J / \ T PATRK h 113 

] aeked up their n.lxs on the hanks of the Tiber, 
our eyes do not perceive them. Rather were they 
such assistant.- a> a mi. iouary would be likely to 
take with him to a heathen land. They went to 
the hoii-.-; ho-pitality opened the \vav for the 
gospel. Patrick preached, the chieftain listened 
and believed in Christ. He was afterward bap 
tized, and all his family. He was " the first of the 
Scots" who confessed the faith under the preach 
ing of Patrick. 

We may suppose that friends and neighbours 
were urged to come and listen to the good news 
which tin Bto&agf* had to tell; that the house be 
came crowded, and that the missionary led them to 
the barn on the lands of the chieftain. There the 
Word L r, v \\ and helicver> multiplied. On,- day 
the chieftain ii-lt his heart touched with gratitude 
i" God, "I give you the land on which we are 
teading,* -aid he to the preacher. "In place of 
thi> bam I. -i a church be built." 

" If shall I >e done," we hear Patrick reply, "and 
may God s house be your habitation." 

"I only ask," said Dicliu, "that th. l.-n-th of 
the church shall not be from east to west, but 
fmni north to >outh." 

"It >hall thu.- Hand," answered the missionary, 


for he did not see any virtue in having a church 
fronting toward the east, as was the general cus 
tom in Oriental lands. What would the Lord 
care for that? It was a mere trifle. The farther 
account is : " Then Patrick erected in that place 
the transverse church, which is called even to the 
present day, Sabhal Patraic, or Patrick s Barn." 
The place is now called Sabhal, or Saul, and is 
about two miles from Downpatrick. It appears 
that other churches were built after this model, ex 
tending from north to south.* Thus was estab 
lished a base of operations. 

The story is, that Patrick was concerned for 
Milchu, his former master, from whom he had run 
away without being redeemed by money. He set 
set forth on foot to visit him. He went in the very 
face of danger, u to offer to his former master a 
double ransom an earthly one in money and 
worldly goods, and a spiritual one by making 
known to him the Christian faith and the gospel 
way of salvation." Going northward into Antrim, 
he reached the top of a hill, where he stood gazing 
upon the scene of his exposures to the rains and 
snows of his vigils, his prayers and his dreams. 

* Bingham s Eccl. Antiq. bk. viii. 3. Usser ad Seldenum, 
Epist. 51. 


What emotions must have filled his heart! By 
that rock he once had his Bethel. By that brook 
lie had wreMled with find, and had his Peniel. 
( nder yonder oak he had songs and visions of the 
niirht. I>elmv him Mo<>d the house of his former 
master, who had used him so roughly twenty-three 
years before. What a joyful mission to enter those 
doors and tell the -lad tidings of a Saviour! 
But, lo! that house is seen to be. in flames, i! we 
may credit the legend. The tyrant has heard of 
coniii,-. 1 1,. i> troubled. An evil spirit 
him. He determines not to meet the 
mi ionary. He sets fire to the house, and easts 
himself into the flames, choo>in^ { () perish rather 
than to become the di-eiple of his former slave. 
1 atricU MM it, and for three hours weeps in com- 
pa ion. lint he next is represented aa uttering 
hi- curse upon the family of the suicide, and de 
claring that none of Mildm s sons shall ever .-it 
upon hi-, pretty throne; they shall be slaves for 

Thus had Patrick cursed the rivers that would 
yield him no fish, according to the fables of the 
monks. "Let us hope," says Dr. Todd, "that 
these examples of vengeance, so common in his 
story, represent only the mind of the ecclesiastics 


of a later age, and that his biographers knew not 
the spirit he was of."* 

If there be any truth at all in the account of 
the visit to his former master, it is probable that 
Patrick failed in his efforts. He could not con 
vince the tyrant that Christ was a Saviour. 
Baffled and repelled, he left him in his sins. 
Those sins were the flames into which he cast him 
self. But the monks could not bear to have their 
hero defeated, and they portrayed the self-destruc 
tion of his former master. One account is that 
some of the cruel prince s family were afterward 
converted to the faith. 

Again we find the missionary at Sabhal, in what 
is now the barony of Secale. There he preaches 
for many days, going about in the neigbourhood, 
teaching all who will give heed to his words. 
" The faith began to spread." It was not by out 
ward display that the hearts of the people were 
gained ; not by exhibiting relics, not by holding 
up a crucifix with an image upon it, nor by the 
mumbling of a Latin mass ; but by the preaching 
of God s holy word in the language of the natives. 
He had learned their speech while a slave, if in 
deed it had not been to him as a mother tongue. 
* Todd s St. Patrick, p. 406. 


He may have called thorn around him at the beat 
of a drum, and IK- pointed them to the true cross 
of Calvary. Having formed little bands of dis 
ciples and placed teachers o\er them, he planned 
other missionary journeys. 

It seems to have !>-n Patrick s policy to bring 
the rulers of the land first to the faith. Eleven 
centuries after him the Reformers acted somewhat 
upon this principle: Luther sought to gain the 
Saxon prince- ; ( alvin presented to Francis I. one 
<>f the noblest letters ever written, and before other 
kin-- he laid hi- -iniplc Confession of Faith. The 
Jri-h chieftains and kings had great power over 
their tribes in the fifth century. The men of 
influence were gather.. 1 at their courts. To win 
them was a great point, for "kings might become 
niir-in--iathers, and queens nursing-mothers" to 
the infant ( linrch. 

Tarah WM hefoiv the mind of Saint Patrick. 

Thither he mad <:<> and tin re preach rim.-t. It 

Was the chief centre of pn\vT. There \\riv 
.gathered the kin--, prince-, nol.lcs and warrior-. 
There wre he], | the national conventions e\ 
three years. The -npreine monarch of Ireland was 
ire, who had rei-ned |,, lt ,) 1IV< , or f; lUr years 
the coming of Patrick. II, was ahmit t.i 


summon the great convention to meet him at 
Tarah. It was the parliament of that ancient day, 
according to an old Irish poet : 

" The learned Ollara Fodla first ordained 
The great assembly, where the nobles met, 
And priests, and poets, and philosophers, 
To make new laws, and to correct the old, 
And to advance the honour of his country." 

Patrick resolved to attend this convention. 
Taking his boat, he and his companions sailed 
down the coast and entered the mouth of the river 
Boyne. Thence they took their way on foot toward 
the place where now stands the town of Slane. 
Coming one evening to the house of a nobleman 
named Sechnen, they were received with generous 
hospitality. The guests sang, prayed, read the 
Scriptures and spake of the errand on which Jesu^ 
Christ came into the world. The host let the 
truth sink down into his ears and reach his heart. 
He believed and was baptized. It was very com 
mon in those days for missionaries to baptize 
persons within a few hours of their conversion. 
Thus did the apostles, but in their case the believers 
generally had some knowledge of the Scriptures 
beforehand, as in the case of the believers at Pen 
tecost, the Ethiopian officer," and probably the 


centurion at Ososarea. This custom, however, in 
later days led to baptism upon a very slight evi 
dence of true faith. It often secured only a nominal 

In this family of rank was a young man of 
gentle nature, attractive and impressible. The 
looks and words of the chief stranger won his 
heart; Patrick also was charmed with him. He 
determined to be a disciple and follow the mis 
sionary wherever he went. His parents and friends 
tried to divert him from such a purpose. They set 
forth the dangers and the toils of such a life as In- 
must have before him. But none of these thin-- 
moved him. He left his home to be a missionary 
the first, it seems, of the natives who was reared 
for the ministry. He could not be separated from 
I atriek, keeping close to him for years amid all 
hi- dangers and sufferings. We know not his 
native name, but for his gentleness he was called 
Px iiiiiims, or liinen. God had given him the power 

"iig, and lie n-ed it for good. II the 

prai-cs of the Lord before large assemblies, to whom 
I atrirk preached. Thus he rendered great aid to 
tin- nood cause. lie w:i- tin- Asaph of the move 

I atri l: ha-tened onward, and pitched his tent 


on a hill quite near to Tarah. It may have been 
the time of Easter, and he may have kept it accord 
ing to the general custom of the fifth century. The 
practice of setting apart certain days for worship, 
in memory of great events in the life of our Lord, 
grew up quite early in the Church. It sprang 
from a good intention. But it soon became a form 
and a device of men. Instead of keeping every 
Sabbath in memory of Christ s resurrection, they 
observed one day in the year, and called it Easter. 
No such custom is taught in the New Testament. 
The " holy day" has become a holiday with most 
of those who pay any regard to it. In the time of 
Patrick it was held more sacred. It became a 
stirring question in the Irish Church on what day 
it should be kept. The Latin Christians held to 
one day, and the Greek Christians another. We 
have little doubt that Patrick kept Easter in the 
Greek manner (if he kept it at all), for thus did 
the Irish Church in later centuries. But we are 
far from being sure that he went to Tarah at 
Easter-tide, and that his " paschal fire" on the hill 
drew the attention of the king and threw the whole 
court into commotion. 

Romish biographers make this a strong point 
for their dates in the life of St. Patrick. They as- 


sume that the Feast of Tarah was celebrated at 
the vernal equinox. In 433 this occurred on the 
26th of March. This they take as the Easter of 
that year. They also assume that Patrick kept his 
first Easter in Ireland that very year. According 
to their story he must have done a great deal of 
sailing, foot- travel ling and open-air preaching 
during the winter months. But the year 441 
would better agree with their own argument, drawn 
from the movements of the sun. Also it seems that 
the feast of Tarah came off in May, for Bel tine s 
day is still fixed at that time among the Irish and 
the Scott \A i Hiuhlamh TS. Some ancient author 
ities, however, fix the convention of Tarah about 
the first of November, a time >till further from the 
Christian Easter. Moreover, there is some evidence 
that Saint Patrick was not at Tarah for several 
years after his arrival in Ireland.* Indeed we 
should not be guilty of very great incredulity if 
we doubted whether In- was ever there at all when 
such a convention wa> held. The proof, to say the 
lea>l <.f it, i- l.y no mean- ..m-lu-ive. 

There was a va.-t work the missionary. 
A heathen religion miiM he overthrown, one of 
the most powerful and interesting n ftlu ancient 
*Todd a E 420. 


systems of errors. We must therefore give a little 
attention to the Druids, their customs, their super 
stitions, their poets, their priests and their influence 
over botli rulers and people. 



Through untold ages past there stood 
A deep, wild, sacred, awful wood : 
Ite interwoven boughs had made 
A cheerless, chilly, silent shade: 
There, underneath the gloomy trees, 
Were oft performed the mysteries 
Of barbarous priests, who thought that God 
Loved to look down upon the sod 
Wlu-n- t-v.-ry l.-;if wa* deeply stained 
With blood from human victims drained. 

LUCAN, iii. 399. 

PON the larger branches of old oaks grew 
the mistletoe. It was a shrub fixing its roots 
into the wood of the tree, and there it ap 
peared dark and green through all the 
winter, with white berries upon it. It is often seen 
in forests alon^ our We-tern rivers. I have seen 
one specimen upon a white ..;ik a- tar to the north 
as the southern -hon - of Lake Michigan. The 
mistletoe wa- ln-M MCtied 1 v the heathens of 
Northern Europe. The shade of the oak on which 



it grew was their place of worship. Hence, pro 
bably, the name Druids, or the men of the oaks. 

We imagine ourselves in Ireland, far back, four 
teen centuries ago. We stand upon a hill with a 
village in front of us, just on the border of a thick, 
wild forest. It is one of the first evenings in May. 
Out of some cabins and cells we see strange-looking 
men creeping. They walk about very solemnly, 
and whisper something which to us is very 
mysterious. They are venerable long-beards and 
magicians. Some of them wear coats of many 
colours, and a string of serpent s eggs about their 
necks. Others have a white scarf thrown over 
their shoulders, bracelets on their arms and long 
white rods in their hands. They gaze at the stars, 
and decide that it is the proper time for their sacred 
rites. The moon is just six days old. They gather 
about their chief, but we prefer not to be in their 

In solemn procession they march into the dark, 
gloomy woods. Under an ancient oak they halt 
and engage in a strange mummery. One of their 
priests climbs the oak, and with the golden knife 
cuts away the wondrous mistletoe. Carefully he 
throws it down upon a white cloth, and they quite 
adore it. Every leaf is a treasure. They think it 


ha- power to charm away evil spiiits and keep 
them in health. 

But this is not all. They have led with them 
two white bullocks for sacrifice. They now put a 
wreath of oak leaves upon their horns, and pre 
pare for solemn rites. The golden knife i< 
plunged into the necks of these victims, which 
fall quivering in the pan-- of death. The fires 
are kindled. Skilful hands make all the arrange 
ments for a feast.* We will not suppose ourselv< - 
to be gazing upon a more horrid sight, for the 
Druids are rcpiv-entrd as leading into the gloomy 
woods some slave, or prisoner of war, or the child 
of some pea-ant, and there nfli-rinu; a human .-aeri- 
fice. At .-ix-h time- the .-iii^-in^ priests are said to 
have r ;m d and howled and beat their drums to 
drown the cries of the suffering martyrs. Cse.-ar 
lelN n- that tin- I >ruid- <>! (Jaul made hn-r l>a 
of osier, in the shape of a man, filled them with 
human beings, and set the vast mass on fire.f 
Dfl hop,- thai tin- ancient Iri-h were not SO 

Such wor-hip remind- n- nl the horrid rites of 
sacrifice to Baal and Moloch. It has been sup- 

* IMin\ , lili. xvi. cap. ! \ 

f Comnanteiiet, lib. vi. 10. 


posed that Druidism came from the Phoenicians, 
from whom the Hebrews derived their worst forms 
of idolatry. The Druids had their Baal, as ap 
pears from their Beltine* fires. To face the sun 
was to be about right in the world. The word 
south meant right, and north meant wrong. If one 
was beginning any work, he must first look toward 
the sun if he would prosper. A boat going to 
sea must turn sunwise. As soon as people were 
married they must make a turn sunwise. The 
dead were borne sunwise to the grave. Perhaps 
this was one reason why Dichu wished the new 
church to face the south. The fronting of build 
ings toward the east may have had a similar mean 
ing. Certain men, who think that they must turn 
toward sunrise when saying their prayers, may 
ask whether they do not take their custom from 
the Druids, whose priests were likely to do the 
same thing. Thus follies creep into the very 
Church of Christ. They perhaps adored the sun, 
but they do not seem to have made idols. They 
held that their gods were omnipresent, and to be 
worshipped in roofless temples or within large 
circles of stones. Some writers have thought that 

* Beal-tain, Beat s fire-day. Beal means the sun ; in honour 
of the sun the fire was made. 


.hey had their chief seats in Ireland and on the 
Isle of Man ; thence they spread over Britain and 
into Gaul. 

Saint Patrick might lay hold of some of their 
doctrines, and thus gain a footing for his own. 
They were ready to listen when he told them that 
God was everywhere, always having his eye upon 
their d < !.-. They believed in the immortality of 
the soul, and had some crude ideas of future re 
wards and punishments. They taught that there 
was another world, where the good souls preserved 
their identity and their habits. The souls of bad 
men, they thought, passed into lower animals to 
be chastised. At funerals letters were burnt, for 
the dead to read or carry to those who had gone 
before them across the borders of the spirit-land. 
Money was also loaned to the departed/ on condi 
tion that it should be repaid in the world to come.* 
The prieM- were careful t> !>< the bankers, 411!: 
certain prints now arc, \\h< receive money to pur 
chase souls out of purgatory. But what a work 
to clear a l c\v truth- In mi a mass of err.r>! The 
missionary mu-t preach Christ, who offered the 
only redeeminj- sacrifice, and brought lite and im 
mortality to li^ht in the L r "-pel. He must declare 

*M: i. chap. 2. 


the facts of a judgment, a hell, a heaven, and ar. 
eternity. Druidism was to the ancient Irish what 
Brahminism now is to the Asiatics ; the work of 
Patrick was quite similar to that of the modern 
missionary among the Hindoos. 

In going to Tarah, the citadel of Dmidism, 
Patrick must meet the priests and bards of a false 
religion. These men had great influence at the 
royal court, and to this day it remains in Ireland, 
as "Kirwan" has shown us : 

"The power of these priests was very great. 
They directed in all sacred things they offered all 
sacrifices they were the teachers of the youth, 
and the judges in all disputes public and private. 
Their supreme pontiff was elected by these priests 
in conclave assembled; and he was called the Arch- 
druidj ancf possessed power without check or con 
trol. Whilst thus the ministers of the law, they 
enforced their decisions by religious sanctions, and 
if any refused obedience to their decrees they for 
bid their presence at all religious sacrifices. The 
persons thus doomed were regarded as accursed, 
:md were shunned as were those white with leprosy 
by the Jews. 

" These priests were exempt from war and from 
taxation, and were regarded with the deepest vene- 


ration. Their learning was not committed to 
writing, lest it should go down among the people; 
it was committed to memory, and was thus trans 
mitted from one to another. When they commit 
ted anything to writing, it is said they used the 
Greek language, of which the people were utterly 

" Many of the customs and superstitions which 
now exist in Ireland, and which are wielded with 
great power by the priests to gain their purposes, 
existed there long before the days of Saint Patrick. 
The peasantry now bury their dead with peculiar 
rites; they have their wakes, when the neighbour- 
watch with the dead and carouse; lighted candles 
are placed around the corpse ; the dead are taken 
to the grave followed by the wailing multitudes, 
and are buried with their feet toward the east. So 
it was two thousand years ago ; thus Dathy, the 
la-t pii jan priner (! the enimtrv, was buried. 

"They have now their holy well* in Ire hind. 
They r\i>t in ^reat numbers in every part of the 
country ; and all have a history which connects 
them with tin- lanta-tie doings of some saint or 
saintess in remote antiquity. It i- truly painful to 
gee the deep path> worn by pilgrims to them, going 
round and round them on their knees, doing pen- 


ance for their sins. At the canonical time for 
visiting these wells the paths around them are red 
with the blood of the poor pilgrims. Around these 
wells are rude stones, among which the poor people 
stuif some of their rags, and even some of their 
hair, as a witness, if necessary, of their visit ; and 
around these wells are holy bushes, on which are 
always streaming some fragments of pilgrim gar 
ments to put the guardian saint of the well in mind 
of the stations there performed. As to" these 
wells there can be no doubt ; I have visited them 
recently, and have seen the things now described. 
The name of Saint Patrick, and of a Saint Bridget, 
are widely associated with these fountains; but 
they were regarded as holy before the Christian era ; 
and the penances now performed around them, and 
in the same manner and form, were performed 
in obedience to Druid priests two thousand years 
ago. Indeed, Thomas Moore, himself a papist, 
admits that the holy St. Bridget, of whom Alban 
Butler so piously writes, was the Vesta of the fire- 
worshippers ; and that the nuns of St. Bridget were 
only the Druidesses continued under a new name ! 

" Who, born in Ireland, or descended from Irish 
parents, has not heard of fairies, and of their doings 
and antics, until he has feared if not believed their 


existence? There is scarcely any form of supersti 
tion which has more generally seized on the Irish 
mind than this. The shoe of an ass is often nailed 
on the door-sill t< keep oil the fairies. The priests 
bless amulets, which are sold for a compensation/ 
and are worn around the neck, to keep off* the 
witches and the fairies ! When a boy or girl sent 
to a Protestant school gets sick, the priest, even in 
our own day, tells the parents that their child is 
bewitched in punishment for going to those awful 
schools, and offers to drive off the witches for * a 
obmpeiMatioo/ and on the condition that the child 
be withdrawn from the schools. If the child gets 
well, the priest has the credit ; if it dies, the 
parents and child have gone too far to have the 
punishment remitted! But these fairy legends 
and superstitions jare of Druid origin, and have 
been adopted and trai;>imtted by the priests to 
work upon the fears of the people. 

"Then- an- hu-hes -acred to the fairies, and 
1 pleasant hill> \\hnv they love to congregate," and 
lonely towers amid \vho-e ruins they love to gam 
bol by moonlight, and grovu mand to their .-ports 
and meetings. To cut down a lairy hu>h is even 
now a sacrilege am on L: the ignorant. And the in 
stances are not, even in our day, unfrequeut of a 


peasant removing his cabin when ignorantly built 
on the pathway of the fairies, or when found in 
their way when opening up a new path. All, again 
of Druidic origin, whose priests had their fairies, 
and their bushes, their hills, groves and places 
sacred to them ! 

" The Irish peasantry have a remarkable fond 
ness for bonfires. On Saint John s Eve they 
kindle them on the hill-tops all over the country. 
The lovely Charlotte Elizabeth thus describes one 
of these of which she was a witness : The pile, 
composed of turf, bog- wood and other combustibles, 
was built to a great height. Early in the evening 
the peasants began to assemble, all habited in their 
best array, glowing with health ; I had never seen 
anything resembling it ; and was exceedingly de 
lighted with their handsome, .intelligent, merry 
faces. The fire being kindled, a splendid blaze 
shot up. After a pause the ground was cleared in 
the front of an old piper, the very beau-ideal of 
drollery and shrewdness, who, seated in a low 
chair, with a well-replenished jug by his side, 
screwed his pipes to the liveliest tunes, and the 
endless jig began. 

" When the fire burned low, an indispensable 
part of the ceremony commenced. Every one 


present of the peasantry passed through it, and 
i&veral children were thrown across the sparkling 
embers/ And after describing other ludicrous 
scenes, she remarks, Here was the old pagan wor 
ship of Baal, if not of Moloch too, carried on 
openly and universally in the heart of a nominally 
Christian country, and by millions professing the 
Chri>tian name. I was confounded, for I did not 
know, then, that Popery is only a crafty adapta 
tion of pagan idolatries to its own scheme. 

"The Druids were fire- worshippers, as were the 
Asiatics from whom they were descended. The 
priests of Rome adopted the days and the customs 
consecrated to the worship of fire; they called the 
day- after a saint, and gave to the ceremonies a 
papal significance; and thus perpetuated the cere- 
monic- -f tin* I)ruid- to our time. 

"Tin- kin-- had their bards, as had also all the 
great aristocratic families. These bards became, 
in time, a privilr^-d ela-s, and exercised great in 
fluence. They were the chief chroniclers; they 
kept the family L < noalogie8; they casf int.. rude 
verse the deed- nf their heroes, and. like Homer in 
Greece, iv-itcd them on public; occasions. On 
great occasion-, and at all great festival-, these 
bards were j.n-cnt. By their example they ex- 


cited the youth to the cultivation of oratory, and 
by their fervid appeals they swayed the multitude, 
and filled them with the highest enthusiasm. 
They moved the people as the high winds move 
the trees of the forest. They would seize their 
harps and play and sing their own national songs, 
in which the people would join, until the family, 
provincial, or national spirit was intensely excited, 
when all were ready to go forth to deeds of 
heroism or of rapine. And the names of some 
of these bards, or Fileas, are retained and 
honoured among the people of the country to the 
present day. Had the productions of these bards 
escaped the wrecks of time, Ireland, too, might 
have its Homer, its Virgil, its Horace and its 
Ossian ! 

"There are long and dreary annals running 
through ages, which record little else than the rise 
and fall of kings the wars between provinces and 
petty nobles the insurrections of the peasants 
against their oppressors and the way in which 
nobles at the head of their retainers ravaged 
the island, and destroyed everything by fire and 
sword. By causes like these, and by the bloody 
rites and superstitions of the Druids, the people 
were wasted and brutalized. The arts introduced 


by the first colonists were neglected agriculture 
was fc rsaken ; and, save at intervals few and far 
between, the entire island was agitated by the 
jealousies and conflicts of contending princes and 
nobles, until in the process of time the people were 
buried in profound barbarism and ignorance. 

"Through those obscure ages rose various cus 
toms, traces of which are now visible. The people 
were divided in ranks and grades. These grades 
were designated by the number of colours they 
were permitted to wear; the lowest could wear but 
one, and none but the royal family could wear 
seven. The rank next to royalty was composed 
of the learned order; these wore six colours, which 
shows the high estimation of learning in that early 
day. This custom is the origin of the Scotch plaid 
worn by the Highlanders down to our own times. 

The Irish are proverbial for their hospitality. 
In those early times provisions were made by law 
for straiiL: T- ami travc Hern, by creating an order 
of nobility called ,/,,-/, dners. Th-e di-nii .-: 
were iv.jiiiiv.l ID i.c the proprietor^ of BeV60 town- 
lands; to h: wrfc : to have 
seven herd- .f r..\v, i-ach herd to contain one 
hundred and 1 ortv. their man-ion \va- rcjnirc-d lo 
be acci -illc lv t .iir ditVcn-iif RV6QUW; and a 


sheep and beef were required to be in constant 
preparation, that whoever called should be fed 
without delay. And all was gratuitous. Thus 
the hospitality of the Milesians was without a 
parallel in Europe; and such is the character of 
the Irish people to the present time. The houses 
of the Irish gentry are now as open as they were 
under* the law promulged from the old halls of 
Tarah ; and in the poorest mud cottage on the side 
of the moor you will receive a kind welcome, 
and, if you are in want, a warmth of sympathy 
that will divide with you the last cup of porridge 
or the last potato. An Irish welcome is pro 
verbial in all the earth for cheerfulness, heartiness 
and truthfulness. And the Milesians have carried 
with them into all the lands of their dispersion this 
characteristic of their ancestry. May they nevei 
lose it! 

"These are national characteristics which have 
their foundation in institutions older than our 
Christianity ; and which, because of the stationary 
principle which has obtained in Ireland, have been 
transmitted to our time. Once break, as it must 
be broken in our country, the influence of that old 
stationary principle ; save the native impulses of 
the Milesians, but elevate them above the influence 


of the social and Druidical laws of old Ollarah 
Fodhla, and the conventions of Tarah, and you 
have material out of which to form as noble a 
people as walk the earth."* 

If Druidism thus stamped itself upon a pcMplr, 
so that its customs were not all removed by Chris 
tianity, what must it have been when Saint Patrick 
1" -an hi- labour- in Ireland? Its priests and poets 
were tin- learned men of the country. Twenty 
year- <>f study were required to educate a Druid. 
He kii-\v -nun-thing <f t lie sciences of mathematics, 
a-n .immy, rhetoric, law, medicine and moral 
pliiln-ophy. He was skilled in the arts of magic. 
His knowledge was condensed into triads, or 
-cntences each con tain ing three strong points. 
One triad ran thus : 4k The first three principles of 
wi-dni,i are obedience to the laws of God, care for 
the welfare of man and fortitude under the acci 
dent nf life." 

\\ e to Saint Patrick it a Druid grew jealous! 
A sin-le word from a Druid for ever withered a 
human bring; he was " cut d>\vn like grass." !! 
always lia<l the kin-. . ,. a i-, and at hi- whimper the 
cruel order went forth to slay the hated man. On 

* Ireland and il.. Iri-h l,y Kirwan (Rev. N. Murray, D. D.), 
N. Y. Observer, 1856. 


his lip was war or peace; in his hand the golden 
knife for the throat of the condemned; at the 
sound of his rude lyre the people rose to the work 
of vengeance; on his word the doom of a kingdom 
hung. The loyalty of the land was a religion of 
wonder and fear, and to dispute with a Druid was 
a crime against the state.* 

Woe also to the disciples of Saint Patrick if 
they kept back the tax claimed by the Druids! 
The chief Druid of every district required all 
families, rich or poor, to pay him certain annual 
dues. On an evening in autumn they must put 
out every fire in their houses. It seems to have 
been at the time of the convention of Tarah. 
Then every man must appear and pay his tax. 
If he failed, he was the object of terrible ven 
geance. To be with a fire in the house, and with 
out money in the hand, was a crime. The next 
morning the Druid priest allowed every man to 
take some of his own sacred fire, and rekindle the 
flame on his own hearth. It was a crime for one 
man to lend a living coal to his neighbour ; if he 
did it, he was reduced to poverty and declared an 
outlaw.f To be a Christian one must renounce 

* Disraeli, Amenities, i. 1. 

f Toland s His. Druids, pp. 71. 72. 


such customs of superstition at the peril of his 
life. Also, if he saw "the fiery cross" borne on 
the hills, he must rush to the rallying-place of the 
clans. The chieftain had slain a goat, dipped in 
its blood the ends of a wooden cross, set it on fire, 
given it to the clansman, and told him to run and 
wave it on the hill-tops. When his breath was 
gone, another would take it up and repeat the 
signal. Tht man who did not obey the summons 
was doomed 



HE story is that King Laogaire and his court 
were preparing for the great feast held at 
the time of the convention at Tarah. One 
of the oldest writers upon Saint Patrick, in 
his fondness for the Scripture style, says : "Now 
there happened in that year the idolatrous festival 
which the Gentiles were wont to observe with many 
incantations and magical inventions, and some other 
superstitions of idolatry; gathering together the 
ki< gs, satraps, dukes, chieftains and nobles of the 
people; summoning the magicians, enchanters, 
augurs, with the inventors or teachers of every art 
and gift, unto Laogaire (as unto King Nebuchad 
nezzar of old) to Tarah, which was their Babylon. 
. . . They were worshipping and exercising them 
selves in that Gentile festivity." * 

Every fire was to be put out in the land, and it 
was "made known by proclamation to all that 
* Muirchu Maccn-Machtene, an Irish writer supposed to be 
of the seven k h century. Vide Todtfs Saint Patrick, chap. iii. 



whosoever should, on that night, kindle a fire before 
the king s fire had been kindled on the hill of 
Tarah, that soul should be cut off from his people." 
We may imagine that 

" The king was seated on a royal throne, 
And in his face majestic greatness shone : 
A monarch tor heroic deeds designed, 
For noble acts become a noble mind : 
About him, summoned by his strict command, 
The peers, the priests and commons of the land, 
In princely state and solemn order stand." 

The night is falling. Not yet have the Druids 
struck their sacred fire on the hill of Tarah. Death 
to the man who dares to kindle his own in the very 
teeth of the law ! The king looks out of his 
window; the glare of a distant flume eatrhcs his 
eye. He is amazed. Is his sovereignty de~|i~.-d . 
" Who U thi- that sets at naught the law?" he 
inquires. " Who is so defiant as to light his fire 
just in >i<rlit of my palace?" 

"Death to him !" mutter the Druid counsellors, 
who are in still greater alarm. All eyes stand out 
with a-stniii-lmiriit. The word run- thou-h the, 
halls, "There is a fire on yonder hill." 

What r-hall be dme V" a-k* the kin<r, who is 
scarcely permitted to have a mind of his own. It 


is a religious offence ; the priests must give their 

U O king, live for ever!" is the reply of the 
Druids, as framed by our old author, who labours 
to imitate the style of Scripture and make the 
scene parallel to events in Daniel s time. " This 
fire which we see shall never be extinguished to all 
eternity unless we put it out to-night. Moreover, 
it shall prevail over all the fires of our wonted ob 
servance ; and he who has kindled it shall prevail 
over us and over thyself, and shall win away from 
thee all the men of thy kingdom." Well had it 
been for the Druids if they had known Scripture 
so familiarly as to play thus upon the words of 
Daniel to the king in Babylon ! They would not 
have been in such alarm. 

" Now," continues our author, " when King 
Laogaire heard all these things he was greatly 
troubled, as Herod was of old, and all the city of 
Tarah with him. And he answered and said, 
This shall not be so, but we will now go and see 
the end of the matter, and we will take and kill 
the men who are doing such wickedness against 
our kingdom/ y> 

The story is, that the king set out for the fire- 
crowned hill, with numerous courtiers in his train. 


The Druids would not permit the king nor any of 
the valiant knights to venture too close, lest some 
strange power should injure them. Coming to a 
halt, they advised that the daring intruder should 
be brought into the royal presence. "Let none 
rise up at his coming," said they, "nor pay him 
any respect, lest he win them by his arts." 

The man was ordered to appear. He at once 

obeyed. He entered among the horses and chariots 

and t4ie array of courtiers, chanting the words, 

ne trust in chariots and some in horses, but 

we will remember the name of the Lord our God." 

All eyes were upon the dignified and courageous 

stranger. One of the royal attendants rose up from 

n-spcd to him. This was Ere Mac Dego, a noble 

young man, to whom the stranger said, " Why do 

y. 11 alone rise up to me ip honour of my God." 

u I know n..t why," was the answer; "it seems 
as if fire com.- fn.m your lips to mine." 

"Wilt tlimi receive ih baptism of the Lord?" 
"I will receive it wh, M I know who thou art." 
" I am I atri.-k, :i messenger .,! M,ri M to all wno 
will hear the truth of hrav,,,." \\ ,- ;irc not bound 
to believe all fchif, even aftrr havin- , -ullcd a few 
reasonable stat,-,,,,.,^ II-..MI a mass of absurdities. 
But there is a .Mi,l in the legends an account 


wonders performed by Patrick, modelled after the 
miracles wrought by the hand of Moses before 
Pharaoh, except that Moses is utterly outdone. 
Very coolly does Father Brenan say : " The con 
ference which on this occasion took place between 
Saint Patrick and Laogaire is so interwoven with 
unattested and incredible anecdote that it might 
perhaps be as well passed over.* We pass it over. 

The king is furious. He orders his people to 
seize Patrick. But the fearless missionary chants 
the words, "Let God arise, and let his enemies be 
scattered." "We may suppose that he explained the 
matter of his fire on the hill. It had nothing to 
do with Easter, and, even if it had, the royal pagan 
would have cared nothing for that. It was kindled 
before his tent, simply to expel the chill of an 
October night. The king is appeased. Irish wrath 
quickly gives way to a generous Irish forgiveness. 
As the missionary is a stranger, he shall receive 
Irish hospitality from some of the nobles. 

The next day, Patrick, with five of his compan 
ions, enters the hall where the court is feasting. 
The king s chief bard rises to greet him. This is 
Dubtach, a Druid of great learning and fame. 
With him also rises the young poet Fiacc, a stu- 
* Eccl. Hist. Ireland, p. 14. 


dent whom he taught in the Druid lore. They 
listen while the mis.-ionary preaches what they 
never heard before. He is represented as saying to 
the king and the magnates of the convention: 
" You worship the sun ; you adore the light ; it is 
but a mere creature. That sun which you see ri-o 
daily for our good at the command of the Al 
mighty, but its splendour shall not always endure. 
The day will come when its light shall be extin 
guished, and all those that worship it shall misera 
bly perish. But we adore the true Sun, Christ the 
Ivord and Ruler of all the world." The poet-lau 
reate and his young disciple saw the folly of tin- 
fire- \vor~hip, the leading doctrine of Irish Druid- 
ism. They renounced the system. They believed 
the word and were the first converts at Tarah. 
The younger of these two poets might have found 
a genial frit-nd in IVni^nus, the sweet singer of t In- 
Irish Israel. Tin- kini: was touched by the prayer 
of Patrick. Troubled, fearing, trembling and seek 
ing relief, he -aid to hi> counsellor- : " It i- better 
for me to believe than to die." He professed him 
self a believer in Chri>t. Hut it would take a 
large mantle of charity to cover hi- sins. He 
eeems to have acted from policy, rather than prin 
ciple. The account is, that many at Tarah brli> 



and that " Patrick baptized many thousand men on 
that day" No doubt this is an exaggeration. 

We may know much of Saint Patrick s spirit 
amid these scenes if we may give credit to an an 
cient Irish hymn as one written by himself. It 
is often called Saint Patrick s Armour. It is in 
the style of a lorica or prayer against all evil 
powers. Some parts of it are still remembered by 
the Irish peasantry, and repeated at bed-time as a 
protection from evil. Thus words of devotion 
have been turned to a sort of superstitious dream. 
" That this hymn is a composition of great anti 
quity cannot be questioned. It is written in a 
very ancient dialect of the Irish Celtic. ... It 
notices no doctrine or practice of the Church that 
is not known to have existed before the fifth cen 
tury. . . . We may not, therefore, err very much in 
taking this hymn as a fair representation of Saint 
Patrick s faith and teaching. Whether it was 
actually written by him or not, it was certainly 
composed at a period not very far distant from his 
times, with a view to represent and put forth his 
sentiments. . . . Notwithstanding some tincture of 
superstition, we find the pure and undoubted truths 
of Christianity, a firm faith in the protecting 
providence and power of God ; and Christ is made 


all and in all.* None of the peculiar errors of 
the Rome of the eighth century are found in it. 
Were it " a pious fraud" of the monks, it would 
certainly have had praises to the Virgin Mary, ap 
peals to angels and saints, and hints concerning the 
power of relics, charms and rosaries. It is thus 
literally rendered by Dr. Todd : 

I. I bind to myself f to-day 

The strong power of the invocation of the Trinity, 
The faith of the Trinity in Unity, 
The Creator of the elements. 

II. I bind to myself to-day 

The power of the incarnation of Christ, 
With that of his baptism ; 

power of the crucifixion, 
With that of his burial ; 
The power of the resurrection, 
With [that of] the ascension; 
The power of the coming 
To the sentence of judgment. 

III. I bind to myself to-day 

The power of the love of seraphim, 

In the obedience of angels, 

In the hope of resunvrtion unto reward, 

* Todd s St. Tat rick, pp 

t Dr. Toddshowg th.-it thi- i, thr true n-Mdrrinir ..f th- wjrd 
Atomriug, usually translated "At Tarah." This 1< ^,-ns the 
evidence that tin- hvmn wa> first used at this royal et. 


In the prayers of the noble fathers, 

In the predictions of the prophets, 

In the preaching of apostles, 

In the faith of confessors, 

In the purity of holy virgins, 

In the acts of righteous men. . 

IV. I bind to myself to-day 
The power of heaven, 
The light of the sun, 
The whiteness of snow, 
The force of fire, 
The flashing of lightning, 
The velocity of wind, 
The depth of the sea, 
The stability of the earth, 
The hardness of rocks. 

V. I bind to myself to-day 

The power of God to guide me, 
The might of God to uphold me, 
The wisdom of God to teach me, 
The eye of God to watch over me, 
The ear of God to hear me, 
The word of God to give me speech, 
The hand of God to protect me, 
The way of God to prevent me, 
The shield of Gou to shelter me, 
The host of God to defend me, 

Against the snares of demons, 
Against the temptations of vices, 


Against the lusts of nature, 

Against every man who meditates injury to me, 

Whether far or near, 

With few or with many. 

VI, I have set around me all these powers, 

Against every hostile, savage power . 

Directed against my body and my soul ; 

Against the incantations of false prophets, 

Against the black laws of heathenism, 

Against the false laws of heresy, 

Against the deceits of idolatry, 

Against the spells of women, and smiths, and Druids, 

Against all knowledge which blinds the soul of man. 

VII. Christ, protect me to-day 

Against poison, against burning, 
Against drowning, against wound, 
That I may receive abundant reward. 

VIII. Christ with me, Cliri-t in.-. 

Chri-t behind me, Christ within me, 

Cliri-t l>riii ,ith me, Chri-t al>ove me, 

Christ at my ri-ht, Christ at my left, 

( liri-t in the fort [when I am at IK. me], 

Christ in the it [when I travel], 

Chri.-t in the .-hip [ when I sail]. 

IX. < hri-t in tin- heart of every man 

\VliM thinks of me; 
(hri-t in the month of every man 
speaks to me; 


Christ in every eye that sees me, 
Christ in every ear that hears me. 

X. Of the Lord is salvation, 
Christ is salvation, 
With us ever be 
Thy salvation, O Lord. 



is no; our intention to relate all the travels 
and heroic adventures attributed to Saint 
Patrick by those biographers who have 
dealt largely in the wonderful and mirac 
ulous. They rarely ascribed to him a failure; 
almost every prince whom he visits is suddenly 
converted; wherever he goes whole districts are 
won to the faith, and a bishop is placed over the 
group of churches. This looks suspicious on ite 
very face. The greatest missionaries, from the 
Apostle Paul downward, have had defeats. Uni 
form success has rarely been the rule in human 
toils. The wise advantage taken of a defeat is 
quite as much to the honour of. a hero as an un 
broken series of victories. 

No doubt there was some romance in his preach 
ing, and on his journeys various strange exploit**. 
But the tendency has been to exaggerate his la 
bours. "Many of those advent un > were evidently 
invented to pay a compliment to certain tribes, or 



clans, by ascribing the conversion of their ances 
tors to the preaching of Saint Patrick. Others 
were intended to claim for certain churches, or 
monasteries, the honour of having been by him 
founded: and others, again, were framed with the 
object of supporting the pretensions of the see of 
Armagh to the possession of lands or jurisdiction 
in various parts of Ireland."* Very singular is 
it, if he made so many dioceses, that one modern 
author names twentyf of them as founded before 
the close of the fifth century. Of this statement 
we shall find hereafter an explanation. They were 
central, missionary churches, each having a bishop 
in the sense of a pastor over his own flock, and 
the general oversight of the little bands of Chris 
tians in his district. 

What were the causes of Patrick s success f On 
this question we may hang what is farther to be re 
lated. We shall take those statements which seem 
most likely to be true, illustrating them with such 
anecdotes as exhibit the character of the man and 
of his religious teachings. 

A commanding presence seems to have lent its 
aid. Tradition portrays him as attractive, venera- 

* Todd s St. Patrick, 400. 

t Brenan, Eccl Hist. Ireland, chap. ii. 


ble and dignified in his appearance. In his 
there was a majesty of love and truth. A portly 
frame, open countenance and imposing manner are 
not essential elements of usefulness. The Apostle 
Paul was " in bodily presence contemptible," but 
he was a preacher of tremendous power. The MP- 
dent piety shining forth through uncomely features 
is often a means of grace. Yet amoii- an i 
rant, superstitious, barbarous people there i- a t 
in a noble presence. Chieftains appear to i 
seen something in Patrick more stately than \va- in 

He went from Tarah to the Tailten races. The 
court resorted thither to engage in the royal di 
versions. A modern Irish fair would be a more 
promising scene for preaching. But in spite of the 
tilt-, tournaments and rough sports of the Iri-h 
Olympia, he gained the heart of large numlx r 
people. He bade fair to turn the amu-ement- into 
-olemn exercises. The Druid of longest, gray. ~i 
beard eonld not thn- -way the multitude. Num 
bers listened and l.<-lie\ed, arenrdin:: to tin- tradi 
tions. lint tin- kin- - Ln.iher, ( arl.i-i. -MI of the 
great Niall of the \in- II . an-ry when 

he feared tint kk* games would \n> -joiled. It i\ 
likely that a Druid whispered revenge in his ear. 


He first sought to kill the missionary, but his 
brother Conall warded off the blow. He then 
caused Patrick s helpers to be beaten and thrown 
into the Blackwater. They were not drowned. 
Persecution won them sympathy. 

Conall opened the doors of his heart and home 
to the preacher, inquired the way of life, believed 
on the Lord, and with great joy was baptized ; thus 
accepting brotherhood with the lowliest peasant 
who had bound himself to Christ. Months of 
preaching were passed in this region. lf Show 
kindness to my believing children," said the mis 
sionary, "and be just all the days of your life." 

" I devote to the Lord," said the prince, " the 
site for a church." He measured the ground with 
his own feet, and ordered that it should be sixty 
foot-lengths long. There stood the building which 
took the name of " the Great Church of Patrick." 
This Conall was the great-grandfather of Colum- 
ba, the renowned missionary at lona and in West 
ern Scotland. 

His mode of teaching is worthy of note. It was 
direct, full of truth and forcible. It related to 
Christ rather than to the Church. A very curious 
and ancient anecdote, whether true or false, affords 
a specimen of what was believed to be his manner 


of instructing the ignorant. He crossed the Shan 
non and went into Connaught, and lingered near 
the Mount of the Druids in Roscommon. Perhaps 
he mused upon the fact that races perish from the 
earth as well as men, as he passed by the i-omctery 
of the ancient kings. Perhaps he found hospitality 
in the royal fort. Near it was a well-known foun 
tain. Thither he and his companions went one 
morning, it would seem, to talk with th<i who 
came for water. The little company wa< afterward 
magnified into "a synod of holy bishops!" It is 
said that there they lifted their early song of pi 
to God. 

It appears that King Laogaire had smt two of 
his daughters into this neighbourhood, and p!a<- d 
them under the care of two Druids. For a morn 
ing walk they came to the fountain, and were much 
surprised to meet the strangers, not being quite 
sure but they were "men of the hills," or halt 
gods, who were supposed to dwell in the mountain 

" Whence are ye ?" they asked, " and whence 
come ye ? 

" It were better for you to confess to <mr true 
God than to in<juin- <-<>n<vrning our race." 

"Who is God, and where does he dwell?" the 


elder asked. " Has he sons and daughters, silver 
and gold ? Is he ever-living ? Does he love his 
children ? Are they beautiful ? Tell us of him. 
How shall he be seen ? Is it in youth or in old 
age that he is to be found ?" 

" Our God is the God of all men," answered 
Patrick. " He is the God of heaven and earth, 
the sea and the rivers, the mountains and the 
valleys, the sun, the moon and the stars. He is 
in heaven, and above heaven. He dwells also on 
the earth. He gives life to all things light to the 
sun, stars to the sky, water to the fountains, and 
he upholds all beings." 

How different was he from the gods of the 
Druids ! If we had never heard of the true God, 
we might understand how the king s daughters 
wondered. But they were to hear a still greater 
truth one which had power to win the heart of all 
who will give due heed to it. Those, who call it a 
mystery and treat it with neglect, know not how 
precious it is to the sinner seeking the way to be 

" He hath a Son co-eternal and co-equal with 
himself," continued Patrick. " The Son is not 
younger than the Father ; nor the Father older 
than the Sou. And the Holy Ghost breatheth in 


them.* The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost 
are not divided. But I wish to unite you to the 
heavenly King, as ye are the dau^-lit* T- of an 
earthly king; that is, to believe." 

"Teach us most diligently how we may believe 
in the heavenly King. Show us Imw we may see 
him face to face, and whatsoever thou wilt say untu 
us we will do?" 

No doubt here is a blank in the lc on. If the 
scene were real, the plain requirements must have 
been taught. And Patrick said : " Believe ye that 
by baptism ye put off the sin of your father and 
your moflu T 

"We beli.-ve." 

" Believe ye in repentance after sin ?" 
" We believe." 

relieve ye in the unity of the Church?" 
" We believe." 

Nothing more is added that illustrates Patrick s 
method of teaching. In this there is not all that 

"Inflat in eis," proceedeth from them, would have- been 
the truth. 

f The error here may have been that of the biographer, 
ratlu-r than i.f 1 utrirk. Original -in is not ])iit :i\v;iy by bap- 
tium; itn n-inoval by Christ may U-, ,,t. ,1. i hr -i K n ,,u,.,t 
not be takvn f.r the cause. Thi error grew up quite i-arly in 
some part* of tin- ( hri-ti;in < hur. h. 


we could wish. There are some errors. But there 
is nothing here of modern Romanism. On their 
confession of faith the king s daughters were bap 
tized at the same fountain. What is said of their 
wish to " see the face of Christ" and their sudden 
death is evidently the boldest fiction. 

The story also is, that their teachers were con 
verted " to the repentance of God." They believed 
and renounced their Druidism. Near this spot a 
church arose That many Druids were converted 
is very credible. If only a few of them had 
accepted the Christian doctrines, we should expect 
to find more persecution and less success. 
*( His power of adaptation must have aided 
Patrick s influence. There is a beautiful story 
which gives nobility to one of the plainest of 
plants. It is said that Patrick once came to a 
barbarous tribe and began to preach to them in the 
open air. He spoke of the Holy Trinity. They 
shook their heads. It was too sublime a mystery 
for an ignorant and faithless people, who would not 
accept as true what they could not comprehend. 
These rationalists grew indignant and intolerant. 
They were about to enter into the controversy with 
clubs and drive the missionary from their soil. He 
understood the wise management of human nature. 

SA I *T r.l TRICK. 159 

Stooping down, lit- took from the green sod a sprig 

which h;nl three leave- united in one, and holding 
it up lu- -imple illustration of the Trinity. 

It was the common shamrock, trodden under 
in the pastures and the wild woods. The Mil 
the people wen- gained, (jiiite as much bv the tact 
of the .Mran-e preacher a.- lv the 
inent drawn iVom a symbol so imperfect and un 
worthy of the theme. They li-tcned to the p: 
of the docti M in the Script lire-, and were 

convinced. The legend is that the -hamrock l>ecanie 
in thi- way a national emblem of Ireland. In our 
times many an Iri.-h hat i- decked with tlie sham- 
on Saint Patrick - dfl ^ 

// /"it aided Patrick s in 

fluence. It appears that he overthrew some oft ho 
pillar-Moiies, which >eem t. ha\c been the chief 
objects of worship with th- pa-an Iri>h. One of 
th.-e wa- the Crom-cr "ihe black Mi..piiiir- 

itone. 91 Keating MJI --tlie same go<l that 

adored in ( i :11 <1 that this WW llie 

form of idolatry introduced Upoag "the 
MileHan-.""- Around it -tood hi -cr idols 

of brass. The spot was called "the plain of ki, 
ing." It had been a favou. 

li J, p. 156. 


Laogaire. To this "Moloch of Ireland" no 
doubt human victims were sacrificed. 

To this plain the ardent missionary bent his 
way. He resolved that the idol should fall. 
Romanists differ as to whether it fell at the touch 
of his a holy staff" or at the voice of his prayer. 
We believed in neither of these means, for it would 
involve a miracle. It is far more likely that he 
caused it to be smitten to the dust by blows which 
were not at all mysterious. A hammer in a strong 
hand was sufficient. The people saw that such 
idols were worse than vanity. There too, it is 
said, a church was built, transmitting "to suc 
ceeding ages the memory of the wonderful things 
that God had accomplished there by the ministry 
of his servant." 

Another name of the idol is thought to have 
been Crom-dubh, whence a certain day is now called 
in Ireland, Cromduff Sunday. It may be that 
the old heathen festival was turned into a Chris 
tian observance. The people were not willing to 
give up, altogether, their pagan revelries, and in 
their stead certain rites, more Christian, were 
adopted. It may be that Patrick showed some 
tolerance toward the old superstitions. He dealt 
tenderly with the popular usages and prejudices. 


He did not break in pieces all the idols of stone, 
in the spirit of the young Hebrew king, Josiah. 
The chieftain.- would not permit it; the clansmen 
would rise in rebellion. On ~.,me of them he was 
content to iiis.TJi,e the name of Jesus. Also the 
wells, which had long been used f,r heathen pur 
poses, he allowed to be used lor baptism. Near 
them churches were built, so that the people might 
walk in the old paths fur a new purpose. The 
Druid fire became an Ka-ter flame. In a later 
day this adaptation of heathen customs to Chris 
tian rites gave rise to many evils. Kven the good 
Columba said, without meaning any irreverence, 
"My Druid i> Christ." 

"Nothing is clearer," says Dr. O Donovan, 
" than that Patrick engrafted Christianity on the 
pagan superstitious, with >> much skill that he 
won the pc., pi,, over t,, the rim-nan religion be 
fore they UlldciMond the exact (litl d CUCe bctWCCU 

the two system- nf belief; and much of this half- 
Pagan, half-Christian n-li^ion will be found not 
only in the Irish stories of the Middle Ages, but in 
the Mipcrstitious oi the peas-mtry to tin: present 
day." Thi^ rather a sweeping charge. Without 
denying that Patrick erred in tlii- direction, it is 
certainly unfair to lay all these results to his ac- 


count. Those who came after him were more dis 
posed to compromise with the old Druidic customs. 
They were ready to borrow from the heathen, as 
was then done in almost all Christendom. It was 
this, in a great measure, that made Romanism, and 
gave it popularity among every people at whose 
doors the Church s messengers were knocking. 
Gregory the Great was not a fierce iconoclast. He 
saw with regret the destruction of heathen temples. 
u He enjoined their sanctification by Christian 
rites ; the idols only were to be destroyed without 
remorse. Even the sacrifices of oxen were to con 
tinue, but to be celebrated on the saints days, in 
order gently to transfer the adoration of the people 
from their old to their new objects of worship."* 

Not yet is the Church rid of this faulty policy. 
It is rightly felt to be a duty both to Christianize 
society and to socialize the Church. How shall we 
adapt our religion to the demands of worldly men ? 
Shall we come down to their tastes, their customs, 
their habits? Shall we take up what is peculiar 
to their society and give it a place in the Church ? 
Shall we adopt their amusements and try to hallow 
them? This will be, not to socialize our Chris 
tianity, but to secularize it. It will be to make the 
* Milman, Lat. Chris, bk. iii. chap, vii., A. D, 590. 


"broad road" the easy avenue to the "strait gate;" 
the rounds of mirth, the ladder of piety! The 
apology that such devices will draw ,M>me sinners 
who can be reached by nothing else is suspicious. 
It reflects on God s own means. His gospel is 
adapted to reach every soul. To carry into the 
pulpit the buffooneries that make a street auction 
interesting to the crowd, all agape for low wit, 
finds a pnc.r excuse in the assertion that some are 
thus \v.)ii who can be gained in no other way. I 
deny the a ert i< .n. So long as men have a con- 
scienee and nunninii sense, they can be touched by 
the solemn realities of eternity and the wondrous 
love of Christ. The efforts to tempt them into the 
way of life by worldly lures may afford them 
amusement, but the result will be only failure. 
( hrist designed that his kingdom should be in the 
world (not of it), in order to Christianize the 
world. lie did not mean that the world should 
be brought into his kingdom to secularize that 

Centres of influence were sought. To gain a country 
he must win it- petty kiiiL r : the prince first, then 
the peasantry. Secure the chief, the elan would 
follow. "To attempt the conversion of the clan 
in opposition to the will of the chieftain would 


probably have been to rush upon inevitable death, 
or at least to risk a violent expulsion from the 
district." We have seen that such leading men 
were the first converts. They permitted Patrick to 
extend his labours. " The clansmen pressed eagerly 
round the missionary who had baptized the chief, 
anxious to receive that mysterious initiation into 
the new faith to which their chieftain and 
father had submitted. The requirements prepara 
tory to baptism do not seem to have been very rigor 
ous; and it is therefore by no means improbable 
that in Tirawley and other remote districts, where 
the spirit of clanship was strong, Patrick, as he 
tells us himself he did, may have baptized some 
thousands of men." * 

Thus every castle, every court, every city that 
gave him a footing became a centre of influence, a 
spring upon the mountain, sending its stream down 
upon the lowlands. There grew up the central 
churches, which at length swelled into cathedrals ; 
there were founded the schools, which a later ae:e 


perverted into monasteries ; thence went forth mis 
sionaries whose feet were " beautiful upon the 
mountains/ for they were the messengers of " good 
tidings ;" thither resorted young men afterward, 
*Todd s St. Patrick, pp. 498,499. 


and changed the old training-schools into rookeries 
of idle monks. 

The love of pioneering was strong in this earnest 
missionary. To go forth whither none had led the 
way was his delight. He planted where others 
should reap. Like Paul, he chose not to build on 
another man s foundation. No doubt he sought 
out the scattered bands of believers whom P:il- 
ladius had failed to visit and strengthen. He 
may have made their cells the nurseries of schools 
and churches. In solitary places he may have 
found a few disciples, who had retreated into the 
forests to be safe from Druid foes and to hold 
fellowship with God. These he was able to lead 
out of their obscure retreats, place them as teachers 
over bands of youth, or as pastors over little flocks 
who needed a shepherd. 

On his first and perilous journey to the western 
coast he came upon such a Christian retreat, if we 
may credit the hotter lines of an ancient story. 
There he met the "excellent presbyter Ailbe," who 
has often been rej.r. >. -nt< <! as "a bishop" in Ireland 
l>efore the days of Saint Patrick. The young man 
itf more likely to h:t\< } ( n a Culdee missionary. 
When he was about to be ordained by Patrick, he 
went to " a cave" and dug from the earth certain glass 


cups used in the communion service. They were 
hidden there from intruding robbers, who were very 
plentiful in those parts. The cave seems to have 
been a rude chapel, fitted up in a concealed place, a 
long time before, by some of the early Christians 
of Ireland. It is pleasant to imagine that Ailbe 
chose the old retreat as the point for new labours, 
and won converts from the wild tribes of Sligo, 
thus building the old waste places and repairing 
the broken altars of Jehovah. 

His enthusiasm for souls was a motive-power 
within him. He laboured with the ardour and 
energy of faith, and produced effects upon rude 
minds which proved that God was with him. 
Plunging into deep forests as a bold pioneer, he 
opened the road to Christian civilization. His 
journeys, if described, would serve as a guide-book 
to a large part of ancient Ireland. He penetrated 
the interior. He went down among the Firbolgs 
of Connaught. He went from one province to 
another, from one prince to another, undismayed by 
dangers or difficulties. Like another Paul, he 
preached the Gospel with the Holy Ghost sent 
down from heaven ; and his labours were crowned 
with great success. Kings, princes and hostile 
clans beat their swords into ploughshares and their 


Bpears into priming-hooks ; and so abundant 
he in labour that in a few years he carried the 
gospel from Antrim to Kerry, and from the 
"NVicklow mountains to the most secluded glens 
of Mayo.* 

His daring spirit urged him into perilous seem-.-.. 
AVhat were dangers to such a man? He dared to 
obey the call of duty. It appears that on a day 
when he was at Tarali, he overheard two ehieftains 
conversing together about their home and people. 
One of them said, " I am Enna the son of Amal- 
gaid, from the western rc^imi-, where is the Wood 
of Foclut." 

"Thai -reins to be the country of which I had a 
dream in my youth, where the children called for 
me to come and help them," answered Patrick ; " I 
will return with you to your home, if the Lord 
shall so direct." 

" Thou shalt not go forth with me, lest we be 
both slain. It is a long road and beset with 

" Thou mayst never reach thine own country 
alive null-- I -.> \\ith thee, and, if thmi do.-t not 
hear my gospel, thou shalt not have eternal life." 

" I wMi my -on to be taught, for he is of tender 

M ;i : r, . I . ! in.l :m<l tli- Irish. 


years/ said the chief, bringing foward the lad, 
whom Patrick took by the hand, while a blessing 
fell from the good man s lips. " But I and my 
brothers cannot believe until we come to our own 
people, lest they should mock us." 

It was agreed that Patrick should be well 
guarded upon the rough journey to the far west, 
" straight across all Ireland." The king sent out 
a body of men with him, but it appears that the 
missionary paid fifteen of them for their services. 
Among some of the wild tribes it seems that the 
company fell into savage hands, if Patrick wrote 
the following words: "On that day they most 
eagerly desired to kill me, but the time was not yet 
come; yet they plundered everything they found 
with us, and bound me in irons ; but on the four 
teenth day the Lord delivered me from their power, 
and whatever was ours was restored to us, through 
God and by the help of the close friends whom we 
had before provided." He seems to have bought 
his liberty quite often on such occasions, for he 
adds : " You know how much I expended upon 
those who were judges throughout all the districts 
which I used to visit. And I think I paid them 
the price of not less than fifteen men, that so you 
might enjoy me, and that I may always enjoy you 


in the Lord. I do not repent of it, yea it is not 
enough for me. I still spend and will spend more. 
The Lord is might v t< give me more hereafter, 
that I may employ myself for your souls. (2 Cor. 
xii. 15)." 

Crossing the river M..y, he came into a wooded 
country, like that of which lie had dreamed many 
years before, and which had clung ever since to his 
imagination. But it quite staler- our faith to 
read the story of the legend-makers, that he met 
two young women who were the very children 
once calling t> him from the Focladian for. 
We may follow him to the rally ing-place of the 
clan Amaliraid, not far from the present town of 
Killala. The clansmen had met to elect a leader 
from among the seven sons of their late chieftain. 
These sons were brave warriors, "whose match in 
the field of battle it were difficult to find." One 
of them was Enna, who had talked with the gn -at 
missionary at Tarah. Polities ran high, and the 
candidates for office were not likely to ma^e them 
selves unpopular. If the people should hear the 
preacher with fiiv.ur, the leaders would -ladly 
avow them-elve^ believers. Patrick -!...,! up be 
fore the l;ii- assembly and declared the glad tid 
ings. "He penetrated the hearts of all," says 


Tirechan, "und led them to embrace cordially the 
Christian faith and doctrine." At an ancient well 
it is said that large numbers were baptized, and 
among them the sons of the late chief. Over the 
flock thus gathered was placed a pastor, " a man 
of great sanctity, well versed in Holy Scripture."* 

The endurances of such a missionary added to 
his success. Heroism captivates; self-denial car 
ries with it a high degree of reverence. The man 
who makes sacrifices for a people usually wins their 
hearts. Monks and Jesuits have ever understood 
this fact, and when their self-denial was not real, 
they assumed the guise of it. Their haggard faces, 
their bare and bleeding feet, won them respect. 
There is no good proof that Patrick went about in 
the disguises of poverty and humility. He en 
dured real trials ; he made real sacrifices ; he re 
fused the offers of gifts and wealth. He was 
careful to avoid the semblance of seeking his own 
glory and profit. It is an Irish saying, that if he 
had accepted all that was offered to him in grati 
tude, he would not have left as much as would 
have fed two horses to those who came after him. 

From a few lines of the hymn attributed to his 
disciple Fiacc, whom we saw rising up to honour 
* Todd s St. Patrick, pp. 442-449. 


him at Tarah, the reader may cull some lines of 
truth : 

Prudent was Patrick until death: 
Bold was he in banishing error: 
Therefore bis tame was extended 
Up to each tribe of the people. 

1 1.- hymns and revelations 

And the three fifties* sang daily. 

He preaehed, he prayed, he baptized, 

And from rendering praise never ceased. 

Hi felt not the cold of the season; 

The rains-nf the night fell upon him: 

To further the kingdom of heaven 

He preached through the day on the hills. 

Oft on the bare rock h- 
A dampened cloak \va.- hi- .-belter: 
Then, leaving behind his stone pillow, 
He hastened to unceasing labours.! 

* Tres quinquagenaa psalmorum is Colgan s version. This 
singing of "the three liftie-" sound- to us quite as much out of 
time :t- if it were said lliat he took his salary in five-twenties 1 

f 11 ml about which some of our readers 

will be curious to know. It jrave rise to a proverb. It is. that 
when I atriek wa- in the west of Ireland, he passed his Lent on 
a high mountain, " fa.-tini; forty days without taking any kind 
of HHtaDttM I 1 V.-ry wonderful indeed ! but .Joceline burdens 
our amazement still more. This monk gravely tells us that 
"in this place he gathered together the several tribes ,, 
pent* and venomous creature*, and drove them headlong into 


When some of his " children in the Lord," wish 
ing to show their gratitude, " voluntarily brought 
him presents, and pious women gladly offered to 
him their ornaments, Patrick refused them all/ 7 in 
order to avoid the charge that he sought to enrich 
himself. At first they were offended by his refusal. 
But they learned to honour him for his rule of not 
accepting presents for himself. He turned the tide 
of donations to the Lord. He built up these gifts 
in walls of schools and churches, or with them 
" redeemed many Christians from captivity." As a 
faithful shepherd he was ready to give up every 
thing, even life itself, for the sheep. 

In his old age he could appeal to the people, re 
ferring to these refusals of gifts: "If I took any 
thing from you, tell me, and I will restore it. 
Nay, I rather expended money for you, so far as I 
was able; and I went among you, and everywhere, 
for your sakes, amid many dangers, even to those 
extreme regions whither no man had ever gone to 
the Western ocean, and hence hath proceeded that exemption 
which Ireland enjoys from all poisonous reptiles." He did it 
by beating a drum, and this is the only point reasonable in the 
story. If anything could frighten the " creeping things," a 
drum would be likely to do it. It must have been some other 
event that gave to a mountain in that region the name of 


baptize and confirm the people or ordain clergy; 
and by the help of the Lord I did all things dili 
gently and most gladly for your salvation. At the 
same time I gave presents to kings, besides the 
cost of keeping their sons, who walked with me in 
order that robbers might not seize me and my com 
panions. ... I call God to witness that I sought 
not honour from you. That honour is enough for 
me, which is not seen, but is felt in the heart. 
[( mpare Paul s * testimony of a good conscience. ] 
God is faithful, who has promised, and who never 
lies. But I see myself already, in this world, ex 
ulted above measure by the L<>rd. I know very 
well that poverty ami di -comfort suit me much 
better than riches and a life of pleasure. Yes, in 
deed; even the Lord Jesus became poor for our 
sakes. Daily I expected to be seized, dragged into 
slavery or slain. But I feared none of all these 
things, fnr I < a-t myself in the arms of Him who 
rules over all, as it written, Cast thy burden on 
the Lord, and he will sustain thee. " 

These are stirring words. They go ploughing 
through the idle soul, and soften it for fruitfulness. 
No leisurely lii>hop was Patrick. Not even could 
he take time to revisit his native land. "God 
knows how greatly I have wi.-hi-d it," he is made 


to say. "I would gladly have gone into Britain, 
as to my country and parents, and even into Gaul 
to visit my brethren, and to see the face of the 
saints of my Lord. But I am bound by the 
Spirit, who will pronounce me guilty if I do this, 
and I dread lest the work I have begun should 
fall to the ground." There is no evidence that he 
ever left Ireland after he had fully entered upon 
his mission. 

The story that he went to Rome and came back 
an archbishop is a groundless fiction. If we be 
lieve that he went, we may as well take the whole 
story, and believe that he got some relics for 
Armagh by rather sharp practice. u While the 
keepers of the sacred place were asleep and uncon 
scious," he crept in and carried off a goodly quan 
tity of old clothes, blood-stained towels, saints 
tresses, and the like. " The pope" winked at the 
proceeding. "Oh wondrous deed!" exclaims the 
legend is t in rapture. " Oh rare theft of a vast 
treasure of holy things, committed without sacri 
lege the plunder of the most holy place in the 
world." And yet this writer fails to tell that the 
pope embraced Patrick, declared him to be the 
Apostle of Ireland, and made him an archbishop. 
This invention was left for Joceline. 


Attention to young men was a marked feature of 
the ministry of Patrick. He drew them after 
him, teaching them as they travelled, and calling 
out their gifts by employing them in the good 
work. Certain chieftains allowed their son- to at 
tend him, often at his expense. The gentle lad 
Benignus, the charming singer, was long at his 
side. When he found men of the lower rank 
suited to a higher calling, he took care to have 
them instructed and fitted to become teachers of 
the people. Thus he was raising up a native 

The redemption of captives was another feature 
of his wise policy. He had "a zeal to preserve 
the country where he himself had borne the yoke 
from the abuses of slavery, and especially from the 
incursions of the pirates Britons and Scots, 
robbers and traffickers in men who made it a sort 
of store from which they took their human cattle."* 
This gave him favour with the peasantry, who 
loved their children equally with the nobles in 
their forts and eastkt, Many of the rescued cap 
tives -M-MI to have Ixen placed in schools and 
trained for tin- work of teaching and preaching. 
It \v;is common at that time in Europe for the 

* Montalernbert, Moiika of the West, vol. ii. },. 


missionaries to purchase heathen slaves, educate 
them, and send them back to their native land to 
bear the tidings of salvation. Patrick was an ex 
ample to himself of what a redeemed captive 
might accomplish. 

To do and suffer all in the name of the Lord ap 
pears to have been Patrick s earnest desire. For 
him he could labour, suffer, die. He was willing 
to be counted as one of the " least of all saints." He 
says, " Let none think that I place myself on a level 
with the apostles. I am a poor, sinful, despicable 
man. . . . Ye tine talkers, who know nothing of 
the Lord, learn who it is that has called a simple 
person like myself from the ranks of the lowly to 
serve this people, to whom the love of Christ has 
led me. ... I have no power unless he gives it 
to me. Pie knows that I greatly desire that he 
would give me the cup of suffering which he has 
given others to drink. I pray God that he would 
give me perseverance, and think me worthy to bear 
a faithful testimony until the time of my departure. 
If I have striven to do anything for the sake of 
my God whom I love, I beseech him to allow me 
to shed my blood for his name, with those of my 
new converts who have been cast into prison, even 
should I obtain no burial, or should my body be 


torn in pieces by wild beasts. I firmly believe that 
if this should happen to me, I have gained my 
soul along with my body ; for beyond a doubt we 
shall rise again in that day with the splendour of 
the sun ; that is, with the glory of our Redeemer. 
i . . The sun which we see daily rises and sets ; 
but the sun Christ will never set, nor will those 
who do his will. They shall live, as Christ lives, 
for ever." 

Ttte power of prayer was held to be an essential 
means of success. Not only did Patrick entreat 
God with fervour, but he laboured to secure a pray 
ing Church. In the old Culdee spirit he chose 
cells and secluded places for supplication. Thither 
he wished the people to resort. There they might 
renew their strength. Thence they might go into 
the great field, with the blessing of the Lord upon 
them and the Spirit burning in their hearts. It 
was hardly his design to found monasteries. "Saint 
Patrick h:nl a much higher object in view. He 
seems ti hav- been deeply imbued with faith in the 
inieree^ory powers of the ( hurch. He established 
throughput the land u-inplrs and oratories [prayiug- 
plaer-J lur tli.- perpetual worship of (Jod. He 
founded toOMtiei ofpricrtl and l*Miops, whose first 
duty it was to make constant .-upplieations, prayers, 


intercessions, and giving thanks for all men/ 3 
He felt that without prayer his preaching would 
be in vain. From this source slowly arose an evil. 
These societies became convents in a later century. 
It would be too much, probably, to claim that 
Patrick was entirely free from the monastic tend 
encies of that age, yet he was not a monk. His 
effort was not to found monasteries. 

The power of God was the great cause of success. 
To secure it, all else was done. It came by prayer, 
by faithful preaching of the divine word, and by 
the agencies of active laymen and teachers. Men 
planted, God gave the harvest. 

Early in Ireland, Christianity took a somewhat 
national form. It was not looked upon as coming 
from foreigners, nor did it adopt a foreign character. 
It had peculiarities of its own. " The successors 
of Saint Patrick in his missionary labours were 
many of them descendants of the ancient kings and 
chieftains so venerated by a clannish people. The 
surrounding chieftains and men in authority, who 
still kept aloof in paganism, were softened by 
degrees when they perceived that in all the assem 
blies of the Christian Church fervent prayers were 
offered to God for them. In this point of view 
the public incense of prayer and lifting up of 


hands of the Church in a heathen land is perhaps 
the most important engine of mi.-Monarv success. 
Nothing/ says St. Chrysostom, is so apt to draw 
men under teaching as to love and t<> he loved ; kp 
be prayed for in the spirit of love." * We do not 
need for this purpose any other societies than the 
churches of the land; no emivenN, no iimna-i. 
but bands of Christians earnot in praver, in their 
home- and in the house of (i>d. 

Penooution was the usual attendant of missionary 
effort in a heathen country. Chri>tian eivili/ation 
has generally followed in the footMeps of a bleed 
ing Chnivh. Knt the early Christians of Ireland 
were not expo.-ed M much to the sword, the rack 
and the tlames. Still their peace has been exag- 
gerated. " While, in other countries/ says Mr. 
Moore. the introduction of C hri-tianitv has been 
the slow work of time, has been re.HMed hy either 
government or propl,-, and seldom ell eetrd without 
a lavi.-h Hl ii-ion of blood, in Ireland, on the con 
trary, hy the influence of one humble but zealous 
missionary, and with little previous preparation of 
the soil by other hands, ( hristianity burst forth at 
the first ray of apostolie li-ht and with the sudden 
ripeness of a northern >ummer, and at once covered 
*Todd 8 8t. Patrick, p. 514. 


the whole land. Kings and princes, when not 
themselves among the ranks of the converted, saw 
their sons and daughters joining in the train 
without a murmur. Chiefs, at variance in all else, 
agreed in meeting beneath the Christian banner; 
and the proud Druid and bard laid their supersti 
tions meekly at the foot of the Cross ; nor, by a 
singular disposition of Providence, unexampled 
indeed in the whole history of the Church, was 
there a single drop of blood shed, on account of 
religion, through the entire course of this mild 
Christian revolution, by which, in the space of a 
few years, all Ireland was brought tranquilly under 
the influence of the gospel." * 

This pleasing picture is not true to fact. Not 
all Ireland was converted, even nominally. Very 
much was done, but not without the shedding of a 
drop of Christian blood. Patrick refers to his breth 
ren who suffered and were slain for their faith. His 
own life was always in danger and often assailed. 
We have seen him going westward with an escort, 
and even then he did not escape injury. He had 
some of his schools and churches encircled by walls 
and fortifications for the protection of the inmates. 
The great churches stood as the castles of Christ. 
* Hist. Ireland,!. p. 203. 


A touching story is told of Gran, his charioteer. 
Patrick had overturned the great Mack -stone, the 
idol of the Iri>h, and he was travelling into Lein- 

ster. For this deed a certain chief, named IWraid. 

sought revenge. He resolved in fall upon him if 
ftitrick ever passed by his fortress. This resolu 
tion came to the ear of Oi-an, who seems to have 
been in tin- habit of walking beside the gig, that 
may have had but one seat. When they came near 
the castle, Oran pretended to be ver\ weary, and 
his master gave up the scat and to..k the road on 
foot. Soon the plotting chieftain hurled a javelin 
at the man who was riding pa-t. taking him for the 
image-breaker. Oran fell mortally wounded, but 
in dying had the sati.-la< -tion of having saved the 
life of the master whom he loved by the sacrifice 
of his own. 

The Leinster men seem to have shown especial 
aversion to Patrick and hi- doctrines. They had 
driven away Palladius, and their sleeping wrath 
was easily aroused. It is told by the later writers 
that Patrick went into this province, hoping !ir-t 
to win Dunlaing the king, and then the people. 
He visited the n.yal ca.-tle of Naas. Two of the 
king s sons accepted the gospel. This provoked 
the sullen and crafty Foillen, one of the royal offi- 


cers. He laid his plans to rid the court of the hated 
teacher of religion. On a day when he saw Pat 
rick coming to talk with him he pretended to be 
asleep. The visitor entered the room, but detected 
the plot to take his life. The wicked man was dis 
armed, and probably was secretly thrown into a 
prison, where he soon died. This is more likely 
than that his feigned repose proved the sleep of 
death, as the legend-makers affirm. But the idea 
went out among the people that on the approach of 
Patrick his eyes were sealed for ever in death, and 
hence the proverb, used when a Leinster man 
wishes his worst to an enemy : " May his sleep be 
like that of Foillen in the castle of Naas." 



article- .f a rreat BMUl i faith may in 
terest us quite u.- much a.- the acts of his 
^ If his belief was sound, his example 

A-ill have more force. Saint Patrick lived 
in an age when eminent men \\. ectfcd to 

announce their creed. He wrote none. This may 
go to .-how that then Ireland was not troubled with 
the great questions which agitated the Continent. 
On that isle, in the north-west of Christendom, no 
footing was given to the heresies of Pelagius, who 
denied man s native helplessness; and Arius, who 
denied the divinity of Christ. It may show that 
Patrick had no contact with the Roman world. 

But Patrick ^tr-mirly expn cd hi- doctrines. 
We may gather them from the writings which pass 
under his name. They en.p out like the granite 
in a mountain land. When he plead- or rebukes 
or tells the simple story <> hi- lite, they gleam 
forth as gern^ wa-lind up by the waves. In his 

warmest sentences he drives a nail that shines with 



Scripture. And it is worthy of notice that he does 
not quote the version of Jerome, which was largely 
used in the Roman churches. He quotes the old 
Latin Vulgate,* such a translation as he would 
likely have found in a Culdee cell if he was there 
as a student in his earlier days. The Bible of a 
man s youth is preferred in his old age. 

All that has come down to us from his pen, ex 
cept the hymn, was written in the evening of his 
life. He could look back upon the great work 
done in a vast field. The glory of God was dear 
to his heart; to live for that was his motive. 
Tillemont says of the Confession: "It was 
written to give glory to God for the great grace 
which the author had received, and to assure the 
people of his mission that it was indeed God him 
self who had sent him to preach to them the gospel, 
to strengthen their faith, and to make known to all 
the world that the desire of preaching the gospel, 
and of having a part in its promises, was the sole 
motive which had induced him to go to Ireland. 
He had long intended to write, but had deferred 
doing so, fearing lest what he wrote should be ill- 
received among men because he had not learned 
:o write well, and what he had learned of Latin 
* Todd g St. Patrick, pp. 347-349. 


was still further corrupted by intermixture with 
the Irish language. . . . The work is full of good 
sense, and even of intellect and fire, and, what is 
better, it is full of piety. The saint exhibits 
throughout the greatest humility, without lowering 
the dignity of his ministry. We see in the tract 
much of the character of St. Paul. The author 
was undoubtedly well read in the Scriptures." * 
He expected that it would be read by better 
scholars than himself; perhaps there were such in 
In-hind, even among the students whom he had 

Patrick tells us : " I am greatly a debtor to God, 
who hath vouched me such great grace that many 
people by my means should be born again to God; 
and that clergy should be ordained every whert 
t<>r the people who have lately come to the faith; 
for tin- Lord hath taken them from the ends of the 
earth, as lie has promised of old by his prophets: 
The ( Jentiles shall mine t<> thcc from the ends of 
the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers hav 
inherited lie.- and vanity, and there i> no profit in 
them/ Anda^ain: k l have given thee as a li-ht 
to the Gentiles, that thoii inaye-t be for salvation, 
even unto the end of the earth/ And there I 

* Tillemont, A S. Patrick, xvi. p. 461. 


desire to wait for the promise of him who never 
faileth ; as he promiseth in his gospel : They shall 
come from the east, and from the west, and shall 
sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob ; 
as we believe that believers shall come from the 
whole world/ 

The results of his work appeared astonishing as 
he reviewed it : " Whence comes it that in Hiberio* 
those who never had any knowledge of God, and 
u j) to the present time worshipped only idols and 
abominations, are lately become the people of the 
Lord, and are called the sons of God? The sons 
of Scotsf and daughters of Christians appear now 
as monks and virgins of Christ even one blessed 
Scottish lady, of noble birth and of great beauty, 
who was adult, and whom I baptized." Who this 
lady was we know not, but we are told that, of her 
own accord, she devoted herself to a more secluded 
life in order to " live nearer to God." Others did 
the same, even at the cost of enduring persecution 
from their nearest relatives. 

His thoughts took somewhat the form of a 
oreed when writing of the great benefits that God 

* His name for Ireland. 

f The Northern Irish were called Scots. The references to 
monfa will be explained hereafter. 


gave him in the land of his captivity. He says: 
" After we have been converted and brought to God 
we should exalt and confess his wondrous works 
before every nation under the whole heaven, that 
there is none other God, nor ever was, nor shall In: 
hereafter, than God the Father unbegotten, without 
beginning, from whom is all beginning, upholding 
all things. 

" And his Son Jesus Christ, whom we acknow 
ledge to have been always with the Father before 
the beginning of the world, spiritually with the 
Father, in an ineffable manner begotten, before all 
lining; and by him were all things made, 
visible aiul invisible. 

"Ami /"ing made man, and having overcome 
death, he was received into heaven unto the 
Fath. i ; and [the Father] hath given unto him all 
jx.wer, above every name, of things in heaven and 
tin,, rth, and things under the earth, that 

even .-h<nild confess that Jesus Christ is 
Lord and Gud ; 

"Whom we believe and look for his comin</ ; 
who is soon about to be the Judge of quick and 
dead: who will render unto every man according 
to hi.- work ; 

" And who hath poured into us abundantly the 


gift of the Holy Ghost, and the pledge of immor 
tality ; who maketh the faithful and obedient to 
become the sons of God the Father, and joint heirs 
with Christ ; 

" Whom \ve confess and worship, one God in the 
Trinity of the Sacred Name." 

Such is the brief summary of doctrines in the 
Confession. It was not intended to be a full creed. 
We shall find in the Epistle to Coroticus a hearty 
expression of other doctrines, so uttered that they 
might burn upon the consciences of bad men or be 
a comfort to certain disciples in captivity. 

It appears that one evening there was a multi 
tude witnessing a baptism. A goodly number of 
converts, clad in white robes, were at the fountain. 
The minister, who seems not to have been Patrick, 
was baptizing them. Very soon after a band of 
pirates rushed upon them. Some were slain while 
the drops of water were scarcely dried from their 
foreheads. Others were carried away in their white 
robes. The people were affrighted and ran for 
their lives. Houses were plundered and almost 
every sort of outrage committed. The captives 
were taken to the sea-shore, put into boats, borne 
away to a foreign land and sold into slavery. The 
man who did this act of villainy, or in whose name 


it was done, was Coroticus. He seems to have 
been a petty prince of Wales, perhaps Caradoc, 
from whom the county of Cardigan is said to 
derive its name. Some of the Scots and Picts 
seem to have aided in the nefarious busine . 

The heart of Patrick was touched with pity 
for the captives, and filled with indignation against 
the marauders. He wrote a protest against the 
merciless deed. He chose wise and earnest men 
and sent them to the cruel prince. One of them 
he calls " a venerable presbyter, whom I taught 
from infancy." He must have been worthy of the 
delicate mission. Perhaps he \va< lii-ni^nus. Taking 
their boat, tin - m -n went to Coroticus, who pro 
fessed to be a Christian ! They presented the letter 
of the man who styled himself" Bishop in Ireland." 

" What ri _rht has he to reprove me?" we hear 
the prince say haughtily. " He is not my bishop." 

" But have mercy on the poor people," is the en 
treaty of the venerable presbyter. " Be so good as 
to i- -me of the plunder and set free t tu 

ba pti/ed captives." 

;iy with vou ! " we seem to hear the la\vle-> 
chietVtin reply. " Tln-y were all taken by the 
rijiht- ! war. It i> to., late to plead for them; 
they have been sold, and I have thr money for 


them. Get you gone ! You Irish are fit only to 
be slaves. In five minutes I ll put chains about 
your necks, offer you in the market and find what 
you are worth." 

" God will bring you into judgment " 

"Away, away! Officers, take these insolent 
Irishmen out of my presence." 

In some such manner the embassy was dismissed 
with scoffs and ridicule. Contempt was thrown 
upon the letter of Patrick, which has not been pre 
served. The wise men had to return, carrying only 
disappointment to many parents and relatives, who 
had hoped to see the boats returning loaded with 
their goods, their children and their friends. 

Again Patrick took his pen. He wrote another 
protest. He sent it out into the world, hoping that 
it would drop down like a shaft of lightning upon 
Coroticus, and drift as an olive branch to the 
captives. He says: "It is the custom of the 
Roman and Gallican Christians to raise large sums 
of money for the redemption of baptized captives 
from the Franks and other pagans. But you, a 
professing Christian, slay the disciples of Christ 
or you sell them to heathen nations. You hand 
over the members of Christ to the abominations of 
the heathen." 


Then addressing the hirelings of the chieftain, 
he sa>c: * l Patrick, an ignorant sinner, and yet 
appointed a bishop in llibernia, and dwelling 
ationg the barbarous tribes bcrau.-c of my love 
to God, I write these letters with my own hand to 
be tarne to the soldiers of the tyrant : I say not to 
my fellow-citizens, nor to the I d low- citizens of the 
Roman saints, but to the < <>- workers of the devil, 
as their evil deeds prove. For they live in death ; 
they are the associates of the apostate Scots and 
Picts ; they fatten on the blood of innocent Chris 
tians, multitudes of whom I have begotten and 
confirmed in Christ. . . . Does not the divine 
mercy which I cherish oblige me to defend even 
those Avho once made me a captive, and put to the 
massacre the servants of my father? For this peo 
ple are eonfc^ing their sins and turning to the 
Lord. Let your souls melt when I praise the 
courage of the girls whom you insulted and stole 
away. Those delicate children "I" mine in the faith, 
how tlicv defended thrm- lv< - from outrage! 
What heroic courage against their unworthy 
masten ! 

"Tin- Church weep- and wails <v-r her sons nnd 
over IMT daughters, whom tin- -won] has not yet 
slain, but who are exiled in far-off lands when 


openly and shamelessly abounds. There Christian 
freemen are reduced to slavery, and that by the 
most unworthy, most infamous and apostate Picts. 
O most beauteous and beloved children ! I can but 
cry out to you; I cannot tell what to do with 
you ; I am not worthy to give help. The wicked 
ness of the wicked hath prevailed over us. We 
are become as aliens. Do they believe that you 
and us have received one baptism, that we have 
one God, our Father ? Perhaps not ; with them it 
is a crime that we [ye] are born in Hibernia. . .* 

" Have ye not one God ? Why then wrong one 
another ? I grieve for myself. But yet I rejoice 
that I have not laboured in vain ; not in vain hath 
been my pilgrimage here ; only there hath come to 
pass this outrage so horrible and unspeakable. 

" Thanks be to God, O ye believers and baptized 
[ye who have been slain] ! ye have gone from this 
world to Paradise. I behold you. You have be 
gun to journey whither there shall be no night, nor 
sorrow nor death: ye shall exult as lambs let loose: 
" If Coroticus had at that time succeeded in banishing the 
Gwyddil, or Irish settlers in South Wales, and in the frenzy of 
victory had pursued them to Ireland, it is not unnatural that 
IIH followers should regard every native of Ireland as an enemy, 
and treat him as such." In his sympathy Patrick identifies 
himself with the captives. Todd,St. Patrick, 360. 

si 1ST PATRICK. 193 

ye -hall trample upon the ungodly ; they shall be 
p a-hcs under your feet. Ye shall reign with 
ap .-tlrs and prophets and martyrs. Ye shall re 
ceive everla.-ting kingdoms. . . . Without an- dogs 
and sorcen-r- and murderers and liars, whose por 
tion i- the lake of eternal lire. . . . 

"Thus -hall -inner- and the ungodly perish from 
the face of the Lord; but the righteous, in gnat 
joy, shall feast with Christ, shall judge the hea 
then, and >hall rule over ungodly kings for ever 
and ever. . . * 

"I testify before God and his holy angels, that 
it .-hall l>e so as my ignorance* has said. Tin-" 
are not my words; they are the words of God, of 
his apostles and prophets, who never lie. I have 
translated them into Latin.f They who believe 
shall be saved, but whoso believeth not shall be 
damned. God hath spoken. I therefore earnestly 
p ljnest of everv our \vh<> may become the bearer 
of thi- letter, that it be withheld from none, but 
let ii le n-ad I .."! .. re all t he people, and in the pres- 

Mea impcritii, i*, "I myself." It was the frequent 
mode of speaking with thi* humble man. He in concluding 

tin- ! 

t Had he consult! d the original tongues, HO aa to be sure of 

the meaning, and then made a new tran*lntion ? 


ence of Coroticus himself. May God inspire them 
to return to a better mind toward him, so that even, 
though late, they may repent of their impious 
deeds. They have been the murderers of the 
brethren of the Lord. But let them repent and set 
free the baptized captive women. Thus shall God 
count them worthy of life, and they shall be made 
whole here and for ever. Peace* to the Father, to 
the Son and to the Holy Ghost. Amen." 

Thus closes the stirring letter; now revealing 
flashes of lightning, and again the gentle sunbeams 
of love. Its effect we know not. The proud 
chieftain was worthy of only the silence of history. 
No return is mentioned of a single captive. Bond 
age was to them a severe school, but it was the 
school of God. It may have been blessed to them as 
it had once been to the great and good man who had 
brought the gospel to their native land. It may 
have waked them to a higher life. Perhaps their 
baptism had been little more than outward and 
nominal a thing too common throughout Christen- 

* Perhaps he meant "glory," or he may have meant it as 
a prayer that Coroticus might repent and find peace with God. 
No revenge burns in the noble epistle: with all his tremendous 
voice of justice Patrick breathed the invitations of mercy. 
Here was love to an enemy. 


dom in that age. It had ushered them into the 
Church ; but now they may feel the need of " the 
washing of regeneration;" now they may seek 
union with Christ. Perhaps many of them were a 
blessing to others. Some little maiden may have 
proved as an angel unawares in the house of a 
Pictish Naaman. Some youth may have thought 
how Ireland once had a slave who had become her 
spiritual deliverer ; and why might not the captive 
among a barbarous people serve the Lord so well 
that his master should ask the way of happiness 
and life ? Bondsmen have been employed by the 
K- Icemer to set nations free. 



HAT was the Church built up by Saint 
Patrick? its form, its offices, its term of 
existence? To this inquiry we set our 
selves in the interest of historic truth, and 
not in that of any party. Christ was more to him 
than the Church ; of the one we know what he 
believed of the other it is hard to learn what he 
thought. He was not the high churchman of any 

The late Dr. Murray well said: "There has 
been much learned and rather sharp controversy 
as to the polity or external form of the Church in 
the days of Patrick. The Prelatists -claim him as 
archbishop, as having received orders in a direct 
line from the apostles, and as thus transmitting 
orders to them. To believe this leads necessarily 
to the belief of the monkish fables in reference to 
him. This claim it is impossible to establish, 
whether it be true or false in itself. Some Inde 
pendents would claim him as a noble Congrega- 


SAINT r.\ TiircR. 197 

tionali-t; among: whom, wo believe, stands the 
eloquent and warm-hearted Mr. King, of Dublin; 
whilst other-, nf tin- Belfast school, would claim 
him as a Pn-bytrriau. That he was not a Papist 
is certain; but what he was in polity is very un 
certain. It is most likely he troubled him-elf Un 
less upon that subject than do many in our day, 
in ing it his great work to preach the gospel. 
But when we read that Ireland was full of village 
bMiops 1 that in one county, Meath, there were 
nearly thirty bMmps that at one period there 
were about three hundred bishops in the kinL r dnin, 
we may reasonably conclude that parochial bishop. 
were the only ones kimwn to the primitive Chi i 
tianity of Ireland, and that every parish was a 
bi-lmprie. But there is darkness sufficient resting 
upon tlie annals of those early times to forbid 
Maii-ni on the m> hand, and there are now 
and then the jlrainiiiL: nut nf irreat principles sntli- 
cient to i m-in the ba-i- nf thenrie< nn the nther."* 

\\ r liave M0B viunLr men i.llu in-r Patrick as 
Btodente and helper^. Thu- they WOT8 trained i nr 
ini-~inn:irv \\<>rk. It wa< imt nccc. ^ary t<> -end 
them t:ir away to the ( ..ntinent to be educated, 
where the .-yMcm nf -di.mU \\:i- licminin^ m o- 
* Ireland :itnl tin- Iri-li. 


nastic. There were places for retired study at 
home. The old Culdee system had its cells, which 
grew into colleges. There is reason to think that 
Patrick found this system in Ireland and adopted 
its main features. The cell, or kil, seems to have 
been at first a refuge from danger and a resort for 
prayer; then a fixed abode for studious men. It 
grew into a church or a college ; often it became a 
religious centre, whither the people flocked for 
worship, teaching and consolation. In the course 
of years a town grew up around many a prominent 
cell. We find very many names as memorials of 
the ancient kil; such as Kildare, the church or 
cell of the oak ; Kill-fine, the church of the tribe ; 
Cill-Chiarain, the cell of Ciaran, or Kieran. 

The story of Ciaran is that he went into a dense 
wood of Munster, made him a cell, played with 
the wild animals around him, studied and lived 
near to God. He drew to him young men of 
serious minds and taught them; the school en 
larged into a monastery ; a city arose on the spot. 
It is not certain when he lived. Some make him a 
bishop in Ireland thirty years before Saint Patrick ; 
others, a child to whom the great missionary gave 
his blessing on one of his journeys ; and others 
place him in the sixth century. 


Here is probably a specimen of the school- in 
the days of Saint Patrick. The students v, 
called monk> he.-ause they led a secluded life. 
But a young monk of the fifth century w:is a very 
different man from an old monk of the twelfth 
century. He was usually a young man preparing 
to become a mi ionary. His head \vas shorn. 
and lie won- a div-s peculiar to his class. If he 
V tint fond of a secluded life, he remained at 
tin- cell fur long years, or he went forth into de 
forests to found one for himself. This often oc 
curred in later times. But we do not think Saint 
Patrick allowed such men to take their n-i. 
They must prepare for work in the world, and 
when prepared go forth into the great field to sow 
ami n-ap for the Master. 

It appears that Patrick often visited these 
, which might not be called monasteries. 
iv- illations were very different from niona-- 
tic rules. They were little else than would now 
be demanded in a college where the inmate- were 

reijlliivd to .-UppulM t hein-elve-. " Although they 

ob-n-ve.l a eei-iain institute," says .lamie^.n, "yet, 
iii the aeenuut- <;iven of them, we eammt overlook 
thi- remarkable di~t im-t ion betwern them and 
\vhi-h ;uv pn.prrly that 


they were not associated for the purpose of observ 
ing this rule. They might deem certain regula 
tions necessary for the preservation of order, but 
their great design was, by communicating instruc 
tion, to train up others for the work of the minis 
try. Hence it has been justly observed that they 
may be more properly viewed as colleges, in which 
various branches of useful learning were taught, 
than as monasteries. These societies, therefore, 
were in fact the seminaries of the Church both in 
North Britain and in Ireland."* 

When Patrick found in these schools men 
qualified for the work, he was ready to say, " The 
Lord hath need of thee." He had the care of 
churches that needed pastors. He ordained them 
as bishops. Thus he laid his hands on the gentle 
Benignus and placed him over the church of 
Armagh. There the good pastor fed the flock for 
many years. He travelled widely, and gave 
"splendid proofs of his zeal for religion and his 
anxious desire for the conversion of his country 
men." But he went to his rest a few years before 
the great man who had led him forth from his 
father s house when a youth. There is nothing 
but manufactured evidence to show that he ever 
* Jamieson, Hist. Culdeee, p. 33. 


had charge of more than one church, or that he 
had a diocc-c ami an array of clergy under him. 

Thus, too, Patrick, when travelling along the 
banks of the Litfey, came upon Fiacc, whom he 
had once met as a young hard at the court of Tarali. 
The poet had been studying for the ministry. I It- 
was ordained a bishop and placed over the church 
of Sletty. At a later day imagination set him over 
all Leinster. He, no doubt, had a general interest 
in the little bands of Christians in that region, and 
made many a missionary tour, as many a zealous 
pastor now does in a new country. But this does 
not prove that he had a diocese. He seem> to 
have been a good husband, a kind father, a learned 
man and the teacher <>f many disciples. It does 
not appear that he persuaded his former tutor, 
Dubtach, the converted bard, to preach the gospel. 
But this eminent man breathed into Celtic poetry 
the name of Christ. Druid songs were changed to 
Christian hymns. The pairan lyre became a solemn 
psalterv, -iviii j it- notes to holy psalms. An old 
author Bays that when once blessed and transformed, 
the SOIl<r- "I" the hard- beeame BO -wed that the 
angels of God leaned down from heaven to li-tcn ; 
and this i- why the harp of the hard- ha- contiimed 
to be the -ymlo] and emhla/oiiry of Ireland. 


When we go back as nearly as history will carry 
us to the days of Saint Patrick, we find that the 
weight of evidence justifies the following con 
clusions : 

1. Men were ordained bishops per saltum, that 
is, without passing through other clerical orders. 
They had not first to be deacons and priests.* A 
young man might be ordained a bishop, just as 
now a student is ordained a presbyter, thus given 
the highest office known to Presbyterianism. 

2. Men were thus ordained by a single bishop. 
It seems that Patrick often used this power alone. 
It began as a necessity, perhaps, when he was the 
only bishop in Ireland, and was continued after his 
example. But this may not have been the only 
rule of ordination. Even if it were, it would not 
be against one form of church government more 
than another, for in no Church is it allowable for 
one bishop to ordain another, whatever may be 
understood by that title of office. 

3. Men were ordained bishops without being 
placed over any particular church. They had not 
the oversight of churches or clergy. They were 
evangelists, missionaries, travelling preachers and 

*Todd s St. Patrick, ch. i. ; which may be consulted on most 
of the folloving points. 



superintendents of schools. It is admitted by 

PrelatiMs that they were < bishops without sees or 

dJoee* wandering bi.-hops." This class became 

verv numerous in Ireland. 

Early in the twelfth century, Anselm of En-land 
complained thus of the state of u flairs in Irelaiul : 
" It is said that hi-hops in your country are elected 
at random, and appointed without any fixed place 
of episcopal jurisdiction ; and that a bishop, like a 
prie>t, i- ordained by a single bishop." Such had 
been the state of things since the time of Patrick, 
who was eager to have a strong force of mission 
aries in the lidd; and he thought it important for 
them to hold the highest oflice and be the e< t ual 
of himself. It cannot be shown that he was ever 
anything but a "bishop in Ireland," as he styled 
him.-elf in his laM days. 

4. A single church had its bi.-hop ; probably 
every church had one of its own. St. Bernard in 
the twelfth century thought thi- OQ -iu n of " a 
making void of religion," that "every particular 
church -li.iuld have its particular bi>hop." I .ut 
Patrick h.-ld a difl erent view. Hi- rule -erins to 
have been to place over every church a pa-tor, who 
was in oflice c<pial to him-elf. Hence Nennius 
says that he founded three hundred and sixtv-fivti 


churches, and placed over them three hundred and 
sixty-five bishops. 

5. The bishops outnumbered the churches. " It 
is, therefore, an undoubted fact," says Dr. Todd, 
" that the number of bishops in Ireland was very 
great in early times, in proportion to the popula 
tion, as well as absolutely; although we are not 
bound to believe that Saint Patrick consecrated 
with his own hand 7 three hundred and fifty 
bishops, founded seven hundred churches and 
ordained three thousand priests." 

Nor are we bound to believe that there were so 
many places as are reported where seven bishops 
dwelt together as a brotherhood. Probably there 
were a few such in a later century, but hardly one 
hundred and forty-one of them ! Nine hundred 
and eighty-seven bishops thus taking their ease ! 
The monkish annalists were death upon prelatic 

" There is abundant evidence," says Dr. Todd, 
" to show that two or more contemporary bishops 
frequently lived together during the early period 
[of the Irish Church], in the same town, church or 
monastery." But this was doubtless some centuries 
after Patrick s death, when the monastic system 
was in full vigour. In his day the settled and 


travelling bishops seemed to have been greater in 
number than the churches. Of the latter it is not 
possible to make any estimate. 

6. The bishop had no diocese. He was a pastor or 
missionary. In the afternoon of the sixth century 
it was enough for Columba to be ordained a bishop 
in order to qualify him for the great work before 
him in Scotland. Nor was any higher office ever 
conferred upon him. So Columban, who went into 
1 MI rope, is called by the same author a presbyter, 
and in another sentence a bishop, as if they were 
the very same office. The bishops who are repre 
sented to have been placed over dioceses by Pat 
rick belong to a later day. Even the four whom 
some have thought preceded him, and others to 
have laboured with him, seem to belong to the 
sixth or seventh century. They were Ciaran, Ailbe, 
I bar and Declan. Perhaps the first two were co- 
workers of Patrick. Montalembert admits that 
" t he constitution of dioce-e- and pari-ln--, in In 
land as in Scotland, does not go farther bnc-U than 
to the twelfth century/ 

7. Patrick was a " li.-lip in In-laml," and not the 
primate over it. lie had up<n him, in a very im 
portant BflQfft U IM<> (>an "* a " tnr < huivln>," jiiit- 
as Calvin had u general superintendence of all the 

206 8 A INT PA TRICK. 

Protestant churches of France. But was Calvin 
an archbishop? He was a presbyter, the equal 
only in office of his brethren. 

It was very easy for writers, centuries after Pat 
rick s time, to represent the great central churches 
as diocesan, the prominent pastors as prelatic 
bishops, the schools as monasteries, female teachers 
as the founders of nunneries, and over them all one 
great chief, one archbishop, Saint Patrick. But of 
all this we do not believe a word. The old Irish 
term ard-epscop only meant an eminent or cele 
brated bishop, as ard-file meant a chief poet, or 
ard-righ, an eminent king. It did not signify an 
archbishop in the modern sense.* It might have 
been applied to any well-known and influential 

We may well believe that several synods were 
held by Patrick and his co-presbyters. But it is 
very doubtful whether he published any " canons" 
over his name ; certainly not the collections as they 
now appear. If he wrote any laws for the Church, 
the Romanists of a later age foisted in certain rules 
to serve their purpose. Thackeray says of the 
canons of the first synod, held about the year 460, 
" Although some marks of superstition may be 
* Todd s St. Patrick, p. 16. 

SA 1 \T I* A TRICK. 207 

traced in them, and some leaning to the Church of 
K<>me, we cannot hdp being struck by the sim 
plicity, force and sense which pervade them."* 

Tin- -trikinjx part- may have come from Patrick, 
tin- n->t from tho-e who meddled with all that he 
It-It behind him. 

It i.- in connect ion with some of these supposed 
synod- that we hear of Auxilius and Iserninus. 
The story i-, that they came as bishops to assist 
Patri -k. Who >ciit them i- not told in the Ulster 
Anna!-. The later account i- that they went from 
Home with him to Ireland. If their Roman mis 
sion ha- DO better foundation than his, we may give 
little credit to their e\i-tcnoe, and yet not be guilty 
of taking their live-. 

Patrick mii-t have hud a very great influence over 
ihe Iri-h ( liuivh. He had a splendid ^ift of man 
agement. He was able to keep all the forces at 
work. Whatever his official power, there is no 
proof that he <ravc any account of his ,, M . o f it to 
the court ol ROOM, "He did not apply to the 
papal see to have the election of the bi-hops ap 
pointed by him confirmed ; nor is there extant any 
:pt from the apo-toliu see to him, or any cpi. 
tie to Koine. . . . We bare no recorder hint of 
* Anc. Brit. ii. p. 167. 


his having kept up any communication with 
Rome." We are quoting a writer, who thinks that 
the existence of so many missionary and pastor- 
bishops in the early Irish Church was an error, yet 
he says, " It was an error into which a very 
zealous man, who thought he could not have enough 
of chief pastors and shepherds of Christ s flock 
was likely to fall ; but it was one that could not 
for a moment have been tolerated by Rome. Had 
she known it [or had any right to rule], she would 
doubtless have immediately put a stop to such an 
irregularity. The obvious inference is, that she 
was not made acquainted with the state of the in 
fant Church in Ireland, and therefore that St. Pat 
rick acted independently of the papal authority."* 
In order to explain this it has been assumed that 
he had no need to give an account of himself, for 
" he was made apostolic legate over Ireland." But 
St. Bernard informs us that " Gillebert, bishop of 
Limerick, in the twelfth century, was the first who 
discharged the duties of apostolic legate in Ire- 

* Kev. W. G. Todd, Church of St. Patrick, pp. 29-36. Mr. 
Todd has fully examined the subject, and he also says : " I have 
not been able to discover any fair instance of a bishop be 
ing elected to an Irish see by the interference of the pope, 
from the mission of St. Patrick until after the English inva 
sion." See also Lanigan, ii. 170. 


land." Thus falls to the ground the claim that 
Patrick aet< ! in the name or interest of Rome. 

There is some reason to think that the Church 
of Saint Patrick was more nearly presbyterial than 
<-o M. _.T -ational or prelatic. It was certainly not 
papal. It gradually adopted many errors, but it 
did not submit to the Pope of Rome until the 
twelfth century. 

It grew, extended and became a vast power in 
the world. Its schools became justly renowned. 
They attraen-d students from distant realms. The 
pupils of a single school were often numbered by 
thousands. The course of instruction embraced 
all the M-iences then taught, but more especially 
the Mudy of the Holy S riplures. 

Thus the work of church extension, commenced 
on a large scale by Patrick, was carried on by faith 
ful followers, until, before the beginning of the 
ninth century, the whole land had been studded 
with churches, colleges and scriptural ^-hools, and 
Irish rhri-tian- wen- iiimoii- over Kurop, ior 
lean. in-, piety and missionary zeal. The Irish, 
who still were known by the name of Scots, were 
the only divines who refused to dishonour their 
reason by submitting it implicitly to the dictates 

of authority. .Naturally .subtle and sagacious, they 


applied their philosophy, such as it was, to the 
illustration of the truths and doctrines of religion 
a method which was almost generally abhorred 
and exploded in all the nations. They were lovers 
of learning, and distinguished themselves, in these 
times of ignorance, by the culture of the sciences, 
beyond all other European nations. Owing to the 
eminence of the Irish in science and literature, and 
to the steadfastness with which they held fast the 
profession of their faith without wavering, Ireland 
was regarded at this period, throughout Europe, 
as the school of the West and an isle of saints.* 

Camden says : " The Saxons of that age flocked 
thither, as to the great mart of learning, and this 
is the reason why we find this saying so often in 
our [English] writers, Such an one was sent over 
into Ireland to be educated. f No wonder that 
Aldhelm, abbot of Malmesbury, exclaimed, in a 
letter to Ealfrid, who had spent six years studying 
in Ireland, ( Why should Ireland, whither students 
are transported in troops by fleets, be exalted with 
such unspeakable advantages ? >; 

The rapid extension and singular prosperity of 
the early Irish Church is to be attributed, in no 

* Mosheim, Eccl. Hist. Cent. ix. ; Ussher, chap. yi. 
f Britannia, Art. Ireland. 


small degree, to its freedom from foreign control, 
and tn tin- excellence of its system of church 
government, "liishops were appointed without 
consulting K,.me. They consecrated bishops f,,r 
foreign mi ion-; ainl these missions, in many in- 
>tance-, opposed the mandates of Rome. For 
more than live centuries after the death of St. 
Patrick we scarcely have any vestiges of a connec 
tion between Koine and Ireland. Councils and 
synod.- were held from time to time, in order to 
hring the Church of Ireland to the same subordi 
nation to Kome as those of every other part of 
Kurope."* It is thus evident that in thing- 
spiritual and ecclesiastical they refused obedience 
alike to pope and king, holding that the Lr<f 
< ////>/ w sole King and fiead of His Church. 
It would require a volume to do justice to the 
mi-ions of the Church of Saint Patrick. 
We should have to follow Columba, as he revived 
fchesystem of the Culdees in Scotland, and made 
lona a great northern light casting its rays over all 
* aHalloran. Rev. W. G. Todd, a prelatist, in his Church 
" inii.-ln-s satisfactory t-vid.-iuv th:it th.- hi, Imp 
of Rome did not appoint, elect, consecrate, nor confirm the 
l.Mi-.psof Inhm.l, froin the lifih t,i th,- twelfth n-ntury ; n.r 
did lie sail u.-i, ii,, mi sions of the Irish Church, of which 
that of Columha waa tlie lir.-i, to anotht-r country. 


Europe. We should have to trace Columban and 
Gallus marching, with weary feet, through Gaul, 
up the Rhine, over the Alps or into .Italy, found 
ing monasteries, rearing churches, enduring storm 
and cold, persecuted by kings and lifting neglected 
tribes out of barbarism. We should find Vir- 
gilius at Salzburg, in the far-off wilds of the 
Tyrol, not only teaching the gospel, but also 
watching the motions of the planets and conclud 
ing that the earth was round, and that on the 
other side, beneath his feet, there might be nations 
of men. His doctrine of the antipodes brought 
him into trouble with the pope. We have scarcely 
begun the list. In the year 565 the first mission 
ary left the shores of Ireland. For nearly three 
centuries companies of learned and pious men, 
from the colleges of Ireland, continued to go forth 
to preach Christ in the neighbouring countries. 
In North and South Britain, and over all the 
Continent, they went everywhere preaching the 
gospel. Rejecting purgatory, the worship of 
images, the intercession of saints, and transub- 
stantiation doctrines unknown in the Church of 
St. Patrick, and only recently introduced into the 
Church of Rome they were always oppceed by 
the Roman Catholic clergy, and often suffered per- 


secution ; still they held fast the truth, and con- 
tinuiMl, till 840, to preach to tin- inhabitants of 
( "iitinental Kurope the very same Gospel preached 
by St. Patrick to the wondering native- o{ Ireland.* 

Concerning the theology of thi- period Xeander 
write-: "In the Jri.-h Church, 1 roin the time o[ 
its origin, a bolder spirit of inquiry ha<l been pro- 
pagated, which cau-ed many a reaction against the 
papacy; and as in the Irish monasteries, not only 
the Latin, hut al-o the Creek lathers had been 
studied, BO it naturally came about that from that 
-ehool i--ued a iinnv original and free development 
of theology than was to be elsewhere li.und, and 
was thenee pi", .pa-at ei 1 to other laud.-." 

In the year 807 the Danes invaded Ireland. 
They were a fierce and warlike people, and treated 
the vaixjui-hed with horrid cruelty. Themselves 
WOnhippen of heathen L r od-, they cou-idered it a 
religions duty to exterminate the Chri-tian-. \-\>r 
two hundred years the Iri-h were en^a^ d in 
deadly eonlliet with these -avap- liordrs. In the 
b^inning of the eleventh centuiy the -torm -uh- 
sided. There was a temporary calm. But already 
two eeiuiirie- of civil war had produced their 
melancholy re-ults. The jr n . :lt Bohoob and colleges 
* WIN.. i,, Church of St. Patrick, p. 59. 


had been plundered, burned, and their inmates 
slaughtered or dispersed. The churches were in 
ruins and the flocks scattered. The nati >nal re 
cords and many ancient documents deposited in 
the monasteries had perished in the flames ; the 
bonds of society were loosened and social anarchy 
prevailed. Though learning and religion speedily 
revived, and schools and churches began to rise 
from their ashes, yet, owing to disunion and many 
irregularities, the Irish were less able than before 
to resist the insidious inroads of papal influence. 

The Romish bishops of the Danes in Ireland 
used all their influence to induce the native Irish 
to adopt Roman Catholic doctrines and modes of 
worship, and to acknowledge the authority of the 
Roman pontiff. When it is remembered how com 
pletely the early Irish Church had been disorgan 
ized by two centuries of civil war, it will not seem 
strange that many of its members proved unfaith 
ful to the old religion of their fathers, and accepted 
the new doctrines of Rome, lately brought into 
Ireland by these foreign bishops. Thus the Irish 
Church fell away from her ancient fai c h, and before 
a century had elapsed measures were taken to de 
prive her of her ancient independence.* 
* Church of St. Pat-ick, pp. 60-67. 


The English invaded and took possession of 
Iivluml in tin- year 1172. No sooner had the 
pope heard of tlie success of the English expedi 
tion than he wrote to King Henry a letter of con 
gratulation. "It is not (he wrote) without very 
lively sensations of .-ati-tii< -timi that we have 
learned i.f the expedition yon have made in the 
true -pint of a pious kin- against the nation of 
the, and of the magnificent and astonishing 
triumph over a realm into which the princes of 
ROOM never pushed their army. Having a con 
fident hope in the fervour of your devotion, we 
believe it would he your desire, not only to con- 
serve hut to t.rtnnl //" i>ririlcges of the Church of 
Rwn< . and, as in duty hound, to establish //>> juri*- 
tli. fh.ii irln ,- .<!,> has none at present; we, therefore, 
earm-ily exhort yonr Highness to preserve to us 
the privileges belonging to St. Peter in that land." 
It l.e-an to appear that there were really two 
. church e- in Ireland. One was the Church of 
Rome, with it- papal machinery, tti iVu-r - pence, 
its strong arm to puni>h tln^e who refused to adopt, 
tlie new system, and it- swarms of Kn^li-h nmnks 
as the managers of its affairs. They to,.k \ 
thinir into their hands schools, moua>teries, 
churches and pari>he>. Tlie p.veruinem wa 


their side. The invading king won the chieftains, 
and the chieftains placed the yoke on the clansmen. 
It was thenceforth a misfortune for one to have 
Irish blood in his veins ; it was a crime to have a 
love for the truly ancient Church in his heart. 
" The real origin of Irish popery is the English 
invasion under Henry II." * Of this reign Hume 
says, " The Irish had been imperfectly converted to 
Christianity ; and what the pope regarded as the 
surest mark of their imperfect conversion, they 
followed the doctrines of their first teachers, and 
had never acknowledged any subjection to the see 
of Rome." The chiefs became zealous papists. 
The parliament was Roman Catholic ; the bishops 
were all appointed by the pope, and they had seats 
in the national councils ; the kings were all " most 
dearly beloved sons of the pope, devout sons of the 
Church," whose will was law and power was 

The other was the Church of Saint Patrick, 
greatly changed indeed, both in form and doctrine, 
but yet asserting her independence of Rome. It 
was a remnant saved /rom the general wreck. It 
endured severe persecution. " The Church of the 
native Irish was discountenanced and ignored by 
* Soames, Lat. Church, p. 59. 


Rome, as well as by England. It consisted of the 
old Irish clergy and inmates of the monasteries, 
who had not adopted the English manners or 
language, and who were therefore dealt with as 
rebels, and compelled to seek for support from the 
charily or devotion of the people. Many of tli re 
took refuge in foreign countries;" others still 
1 intend in places when- they waited for the dawn 
of a better day.* Then centuries later came the 
tt Reformation. It revived the old spirit. 
Many received the gospel anew, and entered into 
the Reformed churches of England or of Scotland, 
and to our times there has been a force of staunch 
Protestants in Ireland, strongest in the northern 
count ie-, where Saint Patrick seems to have laid 
the nniM enduring foundations. 

an<re reversals occur in history, and one of the 
strangest i>,thut the I ri>h people, who owed nothing 
to IJoinc for their conversion to Christianity, and 
who -tniLTu-led lunir a-aiiM her |, retention-, should 
now lie. reckoned anion L r J MT ,,io-t >ul>mi>Mve ad 
herent^. They once i|ii< ted Saint Patrick a-ain-t 
her claims and customs, but now they associate 
their devoti,,ii to Patrick with their devotion to 
popery. Once he \va> their great prot>tant and 
9t I .u.irk, pp. -j:;7-244. 


the father of their Church ; now they imagine that 
he was a papist, and they acknowledge the father 
hood of the man whose toe is kissed in the Vatican. 
Ireland hates England. Well she might, if the 
reason were that the English king Henry II. sold 
her fair domains to the pope and forced her to pay 
the Peter s pence. Before that time she might love 
England and hate Rome ; now she has reversed her 

Beautiful Ireland, gem of the sea ! Once the 
resort of students, the home of scholars, the abode 
of poetry, the nursery of orators, the light of 
Europe, the isle of saints ! Along thy shores the 
voyager coasts, and he pities thee, now so oppressed 
by Rome, so darkened by the errors of a perverted 
religion, and he thinks what thou wouldst have 
continued to be had the Church of Saint Patrick 
never been overthrown ! 

Upon no other land did the darkness of the 
Middle Ages more slowly yet more thickly fall ; 
over none did ministering angels longer hover to 
witness the courage of those who were the last to 
yield ; in none was truth more completely crushed 
beneath the foreign invader s foot ; from none was 
Christian liberty more thoroughly banished ; and 
through none did soperbtitioB more boldly walk to 


banish God s holy word, turn history into legends, 
erase the early records of an independent Church, 
and overthrew the monuments of the ancient faith. 
In the course of centuries missionaries dwindled 
into monks, earnest pastors into exact! DLL prie-t-, 
ancient schools into in<>n:Meri - ; the pulpit with 
the Bible upon it fell back behind the altar set up for 
the mass and the waxen candle; the simple church 
was overshadowed by the cathedral; shrines urn- 
erected to saints, and devotion took the form of 
penance and pilgrimage. Ireland was laid at the 
feet nt ili -M-ralled Yirjjfin Marv, 01: whose hmw 
was placed the crown that rightly i>clon<:ed only to 
Christ. True, a small, hidden remnant remained, 
waiting tor the Reformation. They accepted it when 
it came. Their sons nobly restored the ancient 
faith; their toil now is to bring Ireland back to 
the Church of Saint Patrick, so far as it was the 
body of Chri-t. In that restoration is the hope of 
KrinV deliverance. May Heaven speed the day! 



E have wandered. As the work was greater 
than the man, we have quite lost sight of 
him. He lived to see the Druids cast into 
the shade. They were no longer the power 
behind the throne. Some of them were converted; 
others grew sullen and silent. So many of the 
kings were at least nominally Christian that these 
men of the oaks dared not lift a hand against the 
missionaries. They might steal into the deep for 
ests and cut the mistletoe, but their barbarous rites 
of sacrifice were ended. 

The Druids had framed many of the old laws, 
and a reform was needed. The tradition is, that 
King Laogaire brought together a council of nine 
wise men to revise the laws of the realm and 
adapt them to the principles of the gospel. Three 
kings, three bishops and three bards are said to 
have sat together in the work : 

The bishops were the most devout Saint Patrick, 
The goofl Benignus and the wise Cairnech ; 


Tlu k ILL S were Laogaire, the Irish monarch, 

A prince in heraldry exactly skilled; 

"With him was joined tin- ever-prudent I>aire, 

The warlike king of I I-t.-r; and the third 

W; i ore, wide Mun-u-r s martial king, 

\VhoM- l.,ve I m- letter- proved his love for ] 

The hards, well ver-ed in tin- antiquities, 

faithful huhtach and the sage Feargus, 
And Uo-a. ^killed in lon-itm languages: 
Tin -.- niiH- (cniH d o\-r tlu- annals and the laws, 
Kra-.-d th.- enon, tin- e fleets of fraud 
Or ignorance, and hy the test of truth 
Made gm id the .-tatutes and the hi.-tories.* 

One of tin- works -aid to have come from the 

hand.- <>f this committee is the Cain J tifrtiic, or 
u Patrick s Law." I cfliajK it was begun in his 
time, hut the greater part nf it i> rilicuh>u> <-uough 
to liave come i.idv from the nmnks of a later ;i 

! <> him a tract i- often a.-criU-d cmiccniin^ the 
jire-ent world, heaven and hell. It is aptlv enti 
tled Hw Time BabtationB," in the first of which 
all the living now dwell, and in one of the other 
two every soul niu . t abide after death. It in: 
no reii-rence to pur^al>ry. r j here i- no proof that 

;t MS btUI ilu- till, ,,f tlu- Ix-ahhar na Iluaidh- 
ch.ngahhala, a uhi.h \se .!, n,t j.n i, nd in have 

dipped. It was highly appn.v d hy the three bardu, 
f Todd 1 -. St. Tatrick, pp. !>:?, 484. 


he wrote a word of it, nor has it any reference to 
the legend of " Saint Patrick s Purgatory," which 
has become proverbial. It seems that on a little 
island in Loch Erne a monastery grew up at a 
later day. When some of the inmates needed to 
be punished, they were sent to a cave near by to 
bring themselves into a better mood, or pilgrims 
were there placed to do penance for their sins. It 
was easy to imagine that through the gloomy 
cavern were seen the spirits of the unhappy, whose 
penance had not been sufficient upon earth. Wild 
talcs were told about such visions in order to win 
more money from those who were made to believe 
that even Christians must be purified by suffering 
after death. To give force to the superstition the 
monks laid hold of the name of Patrick, which had 
a charm for the Irish ear and heart. It was de 
clared that he had been in the cave, and there had 
a sight of the flames of purgatory.* An English 
knight named Owen went thither and shuddered at 
what he saw. An English monk wrote a pre 
tended history of the place, and the gross impos 
ture was supported for centuries by the Anglo-Irish 
bishops in Donegal in order to bring over the 
people to Rome. It is a specimen of the lying 
* Caraden, Britannia, p. 1019. 


wonders fixed upon th<> popular Saint Patrick, and 
this is the foundation of his purgatory. 

He believed that to the living Christian the 
Lord was >aying, "This day -halt thou be with 
me in Paradise." The true Church of St. Patrick 
held that man is naturally ignorant of the true 
God, and has nothing of his own but sin; that 
( hri-t is MiHieicnt lor the salvation of the sinner; 
that the sinner is saved by the grace of God, who 
brill-.:- him to a MOM of his unbelief through faith 
in Chri.-t, and not by his own works; that every 
Saved -inner i- eon-trained by love to be holy and 
do all the good he can, though he does not thereby 
gain any merit ; and that when the believer dies IK; 
pa es immediately into gl. 

Great was the love of the people for the zealous 
mi ionary, BO well and BO widely known. Thou 
sands looked up to him as a father whose toils had 
been endured for their gOOck Not for him-. -If, not 
for power, nor for hi- own L r l<T\ \ had he lived, but 
for them and fur hi- Lord. They began to conn r 
the year- when lie mint die. They looked upon 
his shorn head,f and thought of the crown of 

* Wi:.-.,n, Cli. <,f St. I .-itrirk, ,,. 77. 

t He was often rallnl tin- T-nl< :ml t " the shorn crown." It 
wan a general custom of that age for the clergy to be marked 


righteousness of which he was wont to speak. 
When they saw his gray hairs, they may have 
thought, as was said of another venerable man, 

When the snow on that mountain-top melts, 
There will be a great flood in this valley. 

It appears that he worked on to the last. Only 
when his strength failed, he ceased to travel along 
the trodden paths, visit the churches already 
planted, plunge into new forests, enter among wild 
tribes, call for lodgings at the castles of warlike 
chiefs, expose himself to perils by robbers and 
murderers, search out the scattered sheep of his 
Master, found new churches, ordain new pastors 
and set them to feed the flock of God. But the 
time came when he could not ride so far by day, 
nor face the storm so bravely, nor so safely risk the 
cold, damp air of night. Not so early could he 
" rise up at the voice of the bird ;" the silver cord 
was loosening, the golden bowl breaking, for he 

by the tonsure. Perhaps it meant at first little more than the 
white cravat now does with some clergymen. But it became in 
(lie seventh century a weighty matter. Then it was found that 
the Irish tonsure was quite different from the Roman. In the 
Irish the head waa shorn on the front, from one ear over to the 
other ; in the Roman the whole top was made bare. The ar 
gument then was that the Irish clergy had Saint Patrick for 
their example. What grave disputes about trifles ! 


going to hLs long home. Old age was creeping 
him. He had no earthly home, no family; 
no wife to sit by a hearth-tone and talk of the 
past scenes on the way of their pilgrimage; no 
brothers in Ireland to invite him beneath a roof 
where he might take his last sleep, and on some 
morning l>< gone, to their surprise and grief; no 
bisters to make soft the last couch and press their 
warm hands upon his brow as it grew cold; and the 
only -pot that he could claim as his own was the 
Lriave. Nor to that had he any title-deed; it must 
be granted in charity. 

The story is, that a gentle voice whispered to him 
that lie nm-t soon rest from his labours. It was 
that of Brigid, whose name is linked with his in 
its vast popularity, and given to thousands of Irish 
children. The legend runs that she was u the 
da 11- hier of a bard and a beautiful captive, whom 
her master had -nit away, like Hagar, at the sug 
gestion of hi- wife. Horn in grief and shame, she 
WB received and bapii/ed alon^ with her mother 
by the disciples of Saint Patrick. In vain would 
her father have taken her back and bestowed her 
in marriage when her beauty and wisdom became 
apparent. She d.-voird herself to God and the 
poor, and went to live in an oak wood, formerly 



consecrated to the false gods. . . . She founded 
the first female monastery which Ireland had 
known, under the name of Kildare, the cell of the 
oak." * It can hardly be denied that in the time 
of Patrick some pious women caught the spirit of 
a secluded life. Were it not for this, we should 
think that Brigid lived at a later age, if indeed she 
lived at all. Only a few grains of wheat can be 
winnowed from the bushels of chaffy legends 
which assume to be her history. Yet it is barely 
possible that, with tear-dewed hands, she embroid 
ered a shroud for the body of Patrick when he 
should die. 

The aged missionary could not forget the first spot 
of earth which he had secured for his Lord. The 
old barn, the Sabhal church, could not be deprived 
of his first love. About fifty years had passed 
since he had landed on its neighbouring shore. 
Thither he went to die in the arms of the brethren, 
who there had their home for study and the in 
struction of youth. | Their spiritual father of 

* Montalembert, Monks of the West, ii. p. 393. 

fit was another Patrick, who died at Glastonbury, in Wales. 
He seems to have been an abbot at Armagh, and to have died 
in 850 from the fury of the Danes. In later times he was con 
founded with his great namesake, and pilgrimages were made 
by the Irish to Glastonbury on account of Saint Patrick. 


ninety-six years mint have warned them against 
an abuse of devotion to studv. and entreated them 
to go forth and preach to the ignorant tribes the 
name of Jesus. He was n<t a monk. He did not 
believe that monasteries were the chief places 
where the Lord dwelt. Perhaps he said as another 
advi.-ed in later times, " Go away from God, if you 
think he is only at a convent, and you will find 
him wherever you labour for him." Such, we think, 
would have been the counsel of Patrick. 

When he died the sad report went forth afar, 
and in all the churches there wa- weeping. What 
a privilege to be at his funeral! The clergy 
gathered in lar^c number- to lay him in his grave. 
We give no credit to the legend that Armagh 
-iiarply di-puted with Saul for his body, and that 
to settle the mailer it wa- placed in a cart, and the 
oxen bidden to L r <> whither they plra.-cd, taking it 
to a plaee now called 1 )o\\ npatrick. When their 
father wa- to be buried the -on.- did not all become 
fools. They Mirely did not into armie-, 

fighting f<>r hi- remain.-, until the oxen decided the 
case, and then drop the ti-ud. The -imple lad 
seems to be that he was solemnly and honorablv 
laid in a grave at Downpatrick, near the spot where 
he had tir-t preached the gospel in Ireland. 


The early Church of Saint Patrick seems not to 
have adored his relics. There was no virtue in his 
grave, that it should become a sacred place of re 
sort. Those Christians kept no lights ever burn 
ing upon it. They reared no monument over it 
which time could not destroy. To it they made 
no pilgrimages, thus to win merit or to gain his 
favour as a patron saint. No shrine was there for 
the offerings of their penance. Had such been the 
case, his grave would certainly have been better 
known in after centuries. His name was written 
upon their hearts; his monument was the work 
that he had done for Christ. No other is so 
worthy of a good man, in whatever age he may 
live, or land he may toil. 

The date of his death is fixed, by the Annals of 
Ulster, in the year 493,* nor is there any good 
reason to question it. That he was born, baptized 
and called from earth on a Wednesday is a mer* 
tradition, framed to suit the Koman theories. The 
seventeenth of March is observed as "Saint 
Patrick s Day," but the day of his decease none 
can determine. It was a cunning artifice of Rome 
to seize upon the names of eminent Christians and 
claim them as her "saints." Even the apostles 
* Thus also Ussher, Anc. Irish ; Cave, Scrip. Eccl. 


were taken by her craft, and their names enrolled 
upon her calendar, as if they had been one in faith 
with every Boniface and Gregory. Nor was this 
the wor*t. Tin-so "saints" came to be adored. The 
pope declared that they were worthy objects of 
general wn>hip, and prayers were addressed to 
them as intercessors with God. Thus Patrick was 
raptured by Roman hands, and set up as an idol 
for the people to adore. In one of the Irish 
Psalters he is mentioned as 

Tin- divint Saint Patrick, who possessed 
Tin- lir>t |il:ic: in the Irish < alrndar, 
And was the guardian angel of the isle. 

And this mint-worship is not a folly of the pa-t, 
when there was some excuse for ignorance. It is 
a -in of the pre-cnt, and in our own land. It is 
approved by the highest authorities of the Roman 
( hnreh in America. Those who offer " The Litany 
of Saint Patrick" repent these wonl-: "Saint 
Patrick, ap Mle of Ireland, model of bishops, 
profoundly humble, con-iimed with /-al, example 
of charity, glory of Ireland, instructor <,f little 
OlMf, "in- powerful protector, our COIUJKI 
advocate ! pray for The " Novena to Saint 

1 atriek" is 0TB WOrMJ for in it are thc-e peti 
tion-: "Glorion, Saint Patrick! receive my 


prayers, and accept the sentiments of gratitude and 
veneration with which my heart is filled toward 
thee. . . . O charitable shepherd of the Irish 
flock ! who wouldst have laid down a thousand 
lives to save one soul, take my soul and the souls 
of all Christians under thy especial care, and pre 
serve us from the dreadful misfortunes of sin. . . . 
I most humbly recommend to thee this country 
[the United States], with that which was so dear 
to thee while on earth."* 

To rescue the true Patrick from the hands of 
such Romanists, who insult God by adoring a good 
man, is a work that needs to be done. If the 
present attempt shall aid in such a result ; if it be 
shown that they have no sort of claim to him ; if 
the reader shall find evidence that he was a zealous 
missionary, who sought to win souls to Christ, and 
that, with all his errors, he was nevertheless one of 
the greatest men of his age, and if anything shall 
l>e found herein to kindle piety, the effort may be 

The God of Joseph was the God of Patrick. In 
the one case he permitted a Hebrew youth to be 

* " The Golden Manual, being a Guide to Catholic devotion, 
&c. With the approbation of the Most Kev. John Hughes, 
Archbishop of New York." 1853. 


taken from his home, ami sold into Egypt for a 
great purpose; in the other, he had a wise design 
in so bringing i^ood out iii evil that a British lad 
was stolen In 11 n hi- parent- and -old into Ireland. 
How dark wa- hi- providence to each of them in 
his younger days! How hard then to n-ad his 
goodnes- in the event, and yet how plain hi- i^lory 
afterward ! Kach was a -lave. It is good for a 
man that he hear the yoke in his youth. He 
sittrth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath 
borne it upon him. lie putteth his mouth in the 
du-t : if BO be then- may be hope. lie giveth his 
cheek to him that ,-mMeth him; he is filled with 
n-pmaeh. F<r the L.rd will not cast off forever; 
but though he ean-e urirt , vet will ho have com- 
]a--in a --inliii^ to the multitude of his mercie8i W< 
Maeh if the-c bond-men in a forei^,, ] : , n ,l was ;l 
di-camn- of -u-h dn-am- a- < Jod B6nl fr good 
toward a pe,.pl,-. ,1.,-i-ph i- h-d to provide abun 
dant ! eoni lor a timeot lamiue I atriek 
is led to bear th- hr.-ail of eiernal lill- lo a |.-ople 
1 ami-hiiiL r in -in. Kaeh -ee< the my-teri.-. of (i..d 
(.pen with merei.-, and can thank him for the 
\say- which were higher than hi- ways, and the 
thought- which were above hi- thought-. Thi- 



parallel may have struck the mind of Patrick, and 
it is possible that he once used such words as are 
put into his mouth by one of his biographers : " I 
am here by the same Providence that sent Joseph 
into Egypt to save the lives of his father and 

Still farther may we compare them. Joseph was 
faithful to his master, and thus won the favour of 
those who had the command of his services. Thus 
it seems to have been with young Patrick. Such a 
lesson should not be lost. Those who may be under 
the bidding of severe and exacting employers may 
gain their confidence by being faithful. This 
qualifies them for a good influence. Character 
speaks ; the light shines ; hardest hearts may be 
touched, and God may be glorified. 

The Lord who heard young Patrick s prayer 
has never grown weary ; never has he turned away 
his ear from the voice of the penitent, crying to 
him night and day, amid sunshine and in stormiest 
days ; never was he slumbering when the seeker 
after God rose up to plead with him before the 
dawn. Thus Patrick sought the Lord amid the 
rains and snows and darkness ; he found the ever- 
gracious Redeemer. Is anyone now so earnest? 
Is any so devout ? Patrick, God is waiting for 


the voice of prayer. The young exile found him 
a covenant -k< -cping God. To be born of Christian 
parents, to have been dedicated to the Lord in 
infancy, to be the child of prayers and tears, is a 
great privilege. Such a one has the noble-t 
lineage. Let every one thus favoured think of the 
obligations that rest upon him. But grace is not 
inherited by birth not even from a father who is 
a deacon, and a grandfather who is a presbyter. 
On that -ucet--i<n 1 atrick could not depend. He 
mn-t remember his sins, repent, and accept the 
grace <>f tin- covenant made for his uood, het\vr-n 
hi- pan-in- and their (ind, when he wa- baptized 
and cMii-crrated to him. Who knows but that in 
virtue of the .-i"ii the Lord granted to him the 
thini:- -innilied . \\hn knows but that for the 
sake of that covenant God remembered him in a 
-trance land, turned tin; iron furnace into a sclionl 
of prayer and piety, blessed him with the deliver 
ance nf hi- -oul from >in, led him out of bonda-e 
and re-tMi-.-d him to his father s house? \Vlm 
know- but that hi- father and mother had often 
besought the L-.rd to make their -,n a preadiei- nf 
the ir.-j>el, like hi- jrandlat her . Tn-liap- it wa 
in an-wer to their prayer- that Tafrick became a 
mi.-.-ion;iry, so eminent in hi- day that lie stand"- 


f >rth as the type of a class of Christian heroes, who 
plunged into deep forests and triumphed over the 
forces of barbarism. 

What kindles the missionary spirit ? What now 
will induce young men to make an effort for the 
salvation of the pagan world ? Just what led 
Patrick to devote his life to the work the love of 
God and the sad condition of the heathen. The 
one he had felt in his heart the other he had seen 
with his eyes. Think of him tending the flocks 
on the hills, where he met not a man who knew of 
his God, his gospel, his heaven or his eternity. 
What a moral desert! Savage chiefs were ever 
plotting war, and degraded clansmen rushing to 
the fray. Barbarous revels were heard in the 
castles, and the howling of the Druids in the oaken 
forests. Bobbers were the freemen ; every child 
might be carried away and sold as a slave. He 
saw enough to sicken his heart. He pitied the 
heathen of Ireland, and no man will ever do his 
duty to the pagan world unless he is touched with 
a like compassion. You need not visit the heathen 
land ; the picture of its woes may come in the next 
Christian magazine. An hour s study may waken 
the pity that will kindle the spirit to lend the 
needed aid. Patrick went himself A world of 


work was before him. The mode of beginning it 
was simple; the courage to begin at all was sublime. 
But he pitied men, he prayed to God, he went 

everywhere preaching the \\ <>nl, with love to sin 
ners and an enthu.-iasm for Christ. There never 
was a harder field for labour. " There never was 
a nobler mi-sinnary than Patrick." There never 
was such a eivili/ing power as ( hristianity. 

\\V -uivly may think of Patrick as a man who 
first entered Ireland as a slave, but who died in it 
a victor. Erin never knew his like. No other 
name was ever so stamped upon that island and 
her people. It is the very synonym of an \v\>\\- 
inan; NSC expect him ti> an.-wer to it. It is Ireland s 
e. impliment to her ^n -a test Christian teacher. The 
Iri.-h mother who gives it to her son bestows 
mure real honour upon the memory of Saint 
Patrick than i- rendered in all the prayers offered 
to him l>v the multitude <>{ people who swear bv 
hi- name and hold him a- a guardian saint. We 
would re- tore \\\< character, and rememl>er him as 
a man who was 1 iivd with the ini--imary .-pirit ; 
who braved the seas in hi- little boat and landed 
amonu r -tranirer- ; who walked up from the shore 
to offer to the barbarian- the greatest gift of 
heaven; who gat In-red alxuit him Ji litt le circle of 


listeners, and moulded them into different men ; 
who overthrew great idolatries, and raised the true 
cross of Jesus where had stood the altars of the 
Druids. His sphere enlarged. He stood before 
courts ; he travelled through the counties. He 
dictated reforms to the monarch on the throne, and 
sought liberty for the menial beneath the thatch. 
He set on foot a system of schools, in which were 
reared kings for the crown, ministers for the State, 
Christian bards to make a nation s songs, and wise 
men to frame her laws, pastors for the gathering 
flocks and missionaries to foreign lands. In no 
small degree he changed the State and reared the 
Church. He put in motion the forces of a Chris 
tian civilization, no doubt taking up the measures 
which the Culdees had introduced before him, in 
fusing a new spirit into their system, and bringing 
out of their secluded cells the light that was meant 
to shine forth into the broad world. 

In such a man we ought to find much to imitate. 
Not faultless, not free from certain errors of his age, 
not a Paul of the first century, not a Judson of the 
nineteenth ; yet he shared largely in the traits of 
an apostle and the devotion of a missionary. To 
preach Christ to the heathen was his great idea and 
purpose. With him the gospel was not simply a 


revelation of God s love to himself; not a gift 
which he could accept for himself alone, and retreat 
into some remote corner to study and cherish ; it 
was a proclamation. It was something to be pub 
lished, to In- t>M everywhere, and to be urged upon 
the dullest ear and the hardest heart. He would 
be its herald, giving it forth to all men with a 
generous hand. 

To live for Christ, as he thought, was not to be 
a monk ; it was to be a missionary. This was his 
character. We doubt whether there was one other 
missionary in the fifth century who was his equal 
one other so unresting, so ardent, so enthusiastic 
for souls, so stout in rough trials, and so anxious 
to lilt up his voice in wilds where the name of 
.Jesus liad never been uttered. We doubt whether 
tin- example of any other man in that age did 
iiion- to tin- the hearts of young men with the mis 
sionary .-pirit. It was the burning coal in the 
Irish Church. When he was gone, an host of 
ers arose, not to light a torch at tin- kin/- 
Maine, and run over the hills with " the firry n 
of tbe Dmids, but to touch Patrick - hnrnin^odil 
with their lip<, and hasten afar with the name of 
Chri-t to the peri-hin^. I>epite the tendency in 
Irishmen to become monks, no other laud in that 


age sent forth more missionaries. Ireland then 
excelled Rome in the work of publishing the gos 
pel. Hear one of them of the ninth century, 
Claude Clement, who is said to have founded the 
University of Paris under Charlemagne, and then 
gone into Northern Italy. He says: "When I 
came to Turin, I found all the churches full of 
abominations and images ; and because I began to 
destroy what every one adored, every one began to 
open his mouth against me. They say, < We do 
not believe there is anything divine in the image ; 
we only reverence it in honour of the individual 
whom it represents. I answer, If they who have 
quitted the worship of devils, honour the images 
of saints, they have not forsaken idols they have 
only changed their names ; for whether you paint 
upon a wall the pictures of St. Peter or St. Paul, 
or those of Jupiter or Mercury, they are now 
neither gods, nor apostles, nor men. The name is 
changed : the error continues the same. ... If 
the cross of Christ ought to be adored because he 
was nailed to it, for the same reason we ought to 
adore mangers, because he was laid in one; and 
swaddling-clothes, because he was wrapped in 
them. We are not ordered to adore the cross, but 
to bear it, and deny ourselves. Shall we not be- 


lievc (lod when he BWMUTB that neither Noah, nor 
Daniel, nor Job shall deliver son or daughter by 

their riuhtcoiiHH : for this end he makes the de 
claration, that none might put confidence in the 
intercc ion of the .-aints."* This learned and 
zealous man may have imitated Saint Patrick, but 
he did not \vor.-hip him. He swept out of the 
obnrchee of Piedmont the Roman novelties, and 
aided i he ancient \\aldenses in bringing the people 
hack t.i the old religion of apo.-tolie days. 

A late Roman Catholic author, ashamed of the 
puerilities of Joceline, and yet anxious to set forth 
Patrick as the "patron Saint of the Emerald Isle," 
if not of all America, says of him, in about the 
best passage of his book : " He found it a task 
miieh more arduous to reform the heart and root 
out |ia^aui-m and vice, when fortified by custom 
and long habits; but his constant application to 
the great \\ork, \i ^ patience, hi.- humility and in 
vincible courage, conquered all opposition. Divine 
Providence .... endued thN cliampion of the gos 
pel with all the natural <|iialitie- which were re- 
|ui-ite for the function^ of an apoMle. Ill* -enius 
WM Miblime and capable of the designs; 

hi.- heart fearh-> ; hi- charity was not confined to 

A ne. Irih. 


words and thoughts, but shone out in works and 
actions, and extended itself to the service of his 
neighbours, to whom he carried the light of the 

We close in harmony with the final sentence 
of the Confession : " I pray those who believe 
and fear God, and who may condescend to look 
into this writing, which Patrick the sinner, an un 
learned man, wrote in Hibernia, if I have done or 
established any little thing according to Gd s will, 
that not a man of them will ever say that my ig 
norance did it ; but think ye and let it be verily 
believed that it was the gift of God." 

* Life of St. Patrick, published by Murphy, 1861. 



Acme Library Card I